Through some quirk of fate or chance or whatever, two of the movies I received from Blockbuster this week had a lot of parallels. In particular both films feature a black sheep daughter trying to atone and make amends during a family get together. So I figure I might as well review them together. We'll do this in chronological order.
Remember when Katie Holmes was more than Mrs. Cruise and Suri's mommy and frequent cover girl of tabloids and US Weekly? If not, "Pieces of April" from 2003 might be a good reminder. At the very least, with Thanksgiving approaching it's a timely film to watch.
The movie centers around Holmes's character, the eponymous April. After years of drug abuse, terrible boyfriends, and just in general mayhem, April has settled into a New York apartment with a new boyfriend, Bobby (Derek Luke) who seems to be The One. She decides to demonstrate this change by inviting her family to the apartment for Thanksgiving.
Her family lives in suburban Pennsylvania or somewhere like that, necessitating a five hour drive to the Big Apple. April's mother (Patricia Clarkson) is apprehensive and cynical, expecting everything to be a disaster, as does April's brown-nosing sister. April's father (Oliver Platt) is more hopeful. Making things more interesting on the long trip is that the mother is suffering from breast cancer, which requires frequent stops for her to throw up and light up some medical pot. And there's also the senile grandmother along for the ride.
Things are shaping up to be a disaster, especially when she finds out her oven isn't working. This necessitates a mad scramble throughout the building to find someone who will let her use her oven. By the time all is said and done, I'm not sure I'd want to eat the bird for fear of what germs might have got on it along the way.
Clocking in at less than 90 minutes, this movie is brisk but enjoyable. There's not really a lot of weeping and teeth-gnashing and screaming, so that while it's not extremely light-hearted, it's not gloomy either. And there's a good message about love, family, and forgiveness. So I guess you could say this movie is no turkey.
My score: 75/100 (3 stars)
Metacritic score: 70/100 (3 stars)
It's a wedding instead of Thanksgiving dinner that's the centerpiece of "Rachel Getting Married," as should be obvious from the title. Kym Buchanan after years of drug abuse, drinking, and just in general mayhem is checking out of rehab for the weekend for her sister's wedding.
Almost immediately she visits a local AA meeting, where she meets Kiernan, who turns out to also be the best man and almost immediately she and Kiernan are having sex in the basement. While Kym doesn't sabotage the wedding in any huge way, she does hamper things with her overly dramatic, me-first behavior, such as demanding to be made the maid of honor despite having had no input on the wedding.
Kym's presence reopens some old wounds, especially with her and her mother (Debra Winger) over something that happened before Kym went into rehab. But there are good times as well with lots of dancing and singing and competitive dishwasher loading.
There's not much else I could really say about the plot without giving too much away. I thought this movie was interesting, but not overly great. Parts of it dragged, especially the rehearsal dinner toasts and during the reception. There's not too many "Bridezilla" moments except a tantrum at the hair salon and it avoids the cliches about cold feet and such.
There is to some extent the same message about love, family, and forgiveness only with a slightly darker ending.
My score: 50/100 (2 stars)
Metacritic score: 82/100 (3.5 stars)
Overall, I'd say if you want something lighter and funnier than go with the former and if you want more serious fare go with the latter.That is all.