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$5 a Day
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Reviews & Ratings for
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50 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

A tip-top lowball roadmovie with grifts galore - excellent indie flick

9/10
Author: intelearts from the big screen
19 November 2009

If the late 2000s are the new 1930s then this is the perfect movie. In a time of recession we need Christopher Walken's optimistic, unrealistic, opportunistic grifter...

This was a real surprise - and a very pleasant one. I was expecting deep and sorrowful, but got hilarious, thoughtful, and even belly laughs - and enough grifts to make me wonder how or why we pay for anything anymore.

By turns honest, hilarious, outrageous, and moving this is all wrapped up in a lowball low-fi package that smacks of good indie roots.

Definitely one of my favorite movies of the year. Walken's gives a masterclass in comic timing, and Alessandro Nivola is a great straight man as the son who never could. And some great cameos. This is at times snort your milk through your nose funny, at others tragic: but it is not buffoonish in your face slapstick and even better for it.

All in all a really great little road movie that constantly sparkles with fresh ideas and little touches of originality that puts most movies to shame - I hope the Dobrofkys have got another 20 scripts like this - they deserve awards for the writing - a wonderful mix and they deserve lots of work on the basis of this.

And if I'm raving it's because it deserves it - it stands out from the crowd by a mile: fresh, witty, sincere, slightly surreal and oddball, and by the end, exemplary.

Get to see, you'll be glad you did.

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18 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

"$5 a Day" is the best of indie film-making

9/10
Author: napierslogs from Ontario, Canada
19 September 2010

"$5 a Day" is a father-son road trip movie. You may think you've seen that done way too many times before, but it plays out as if it's completely original. This is, quite simply, one of the best indie films ever. It may not be completely independent as it does have an all-star cast behind it.

The handsome and completely endearing Alessandro Nivola is Flynn, the son, who is just trying to live a normal life. Christopher Walken, still on top of his game, is Nat, the father, who schemes and lies his way into living and travelling on just 5 dollars a day. After Flynn loses his job and Nat insists he's dying, Flynn agrees to drive his father across the country for treatment. There are plenty of hilarious cons and schemes, but also some touching honesty, along the way.

"$5 a Day" is a fantastic dramedy. It is billed as a comedy and it does have some low-key humour and many laughs. But by just calling it a comedy, that doesn't seem to give the film full credit for the brilliant character writing. There is a lot of intelligent undertones in the actions of the characters as they each mature in the journey. And the writer did that with subtlety and humour, no melodrama here.

This film was done better than I ever thought a relationship road trip movie could be done. I laughed all of the way, just enjoying the characters, and I didn't find all of the subtle lessons on relationships until after it was over. Walken and Nivola had great chemistry and completely won me over. I now expect them to play father and son in all of their future movies.

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20 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

The Idea May Not Be New, But This Film Is FRESH!

10/10
Author: gradyharp from United States
31 August 2010

It seems like every year or so the cinema comes out with a 'road movie' - an extended revelation of character deficiencies and nobilities played out on the open road (such as 'La Strada', 'Easy Rider', 'Thelma and Louise', 'About Schmidt', 'Motorcycle Diaries', 'The Adventures of Felix', 'Central Station' etc). They usually do well at the box office as a type of catharsis for the audience. That '$5 A DAY', given an excellent script by writing team Neal and Tippi Dobrofsky, a director with the comic timing such as Nigel Cole, and one of the finest groomed casts around, wasn't a major hit is puzzling. Timing, I suppose, but at least we have the great opportunity to see this little jewel of a movie on DVD. By all means pay attention.

Richie Flynn Parker (the gem of an actor Allesandro Nivola who can play comedy as well as he handles drama) is unhappy: he is a conservative Health inspector of restaurants - fired when his police record is uncovered (he had taken the wrap for one of his father's capers), married to Maggie (Amanda Peet) who is leaving him because he never communicates about who he really is, and discovers a letter from his gallivanting grifter huckster father Nat Parker (Christopher Walken in a pitch perfect comedic role) who claims he is dying from a brain tumor and needs a ride to New Mexico for a special treatment. Because Flynn's life is such a mess he consents to go and he and his father set out in a 'Sweet and Low' advertising little auto. Nat shows how he can live on $5 a day by sleeping in empty homes, pulling shenanigans to get free food, entry into parties (Dean Cain plays an 'old acquaintance'), and money and gas. The two spar about why Nat was never there for Flynn, how their relationship is broken, and gradually Flynn discovers the realities of his background - realities he nightly shares on voicemail to his wife Maggie. Along the way the two make stops including a visit to Flynn's previous babysitter Dolores (Sharon Stone, better than ever!), a woman who knows how to bolster Nat's morale and brighten his life - as well as fill Flynn in on some important truths about his parental past. Flynn questions whether Nat really is dying or is just pulling off a scam to get a trip to New Mexico. But in Albuquerque Nat meets up with an old debtor Kruger, now wealthy because of Nat's assistance years ago, and in the process of correcting problems with the past, Flynn's true identity is revealed. What began as a raw, near hostile relationship between Nat and Flynn is transformed in a very touching manner.

It is such a pleasure to jump into the trip and go along with this entertaining ride with Walken and Nivola because they are so very fine in their roles that we feel like we know them well. The balance between hilarity and pathos is excellent and the quality of every aspect of this little Indie film is first class. Highly recommended!

Grady Harp

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Father&Son grifters hit the road ............

6/10
Author: merklekranz from United States
30 November 2010

Christopher Walken and Alessandro Nivola are Father and Son scheming and scamming their way from New Jersey to New Mexico. Much like "House of Games" and "The Grifters", this road odyssey plays like a house of mirrors. In other words, very little is exactly as it seems. Walken is estranged from his son because his irresponsibility landed Nivola in jail. Together they mend fences, while still working the angles along the road. Rarely have two characters been so unsympathetic, and yet somewhat sympathetic at the same time. If you enjoy road movies about rebuilding relationships, "$5 a Day" just might work for you. I know I enjoyed the ride. - MERK

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Worth much more than 5 bucks, a very enjoyable and tender film

Author: Amy Adler from Toledo, Ohio
29 August 2011

Flynn Parker (Alessandro Nivola) thought he had broken free from his past. You see, his conman father, Nat (Christopher Walken) was always hustling and stretching the truth, causing a chaotic childhood. It finally resulted in Flynn taking the fall on one particular scheme and going to prison. For the past few years, Flynn has been living in the Los Angeles area and working as a health inspector. Unfortunately, the boss has just now gotten word of Flynn's criminal past and he is fired. To add insult to injury, Flynn's girlfriend, Maggie (Amanda Peet) has also moved out of their apartment, because of her boyfriend's failure to open up about his past to her. So, into this fine kettle comes word that Nat wants to see Flynn and asks him to fly to Atlantic City. Having no other job prospects at the moment, Flynn makes the journey. But, when he arrives, his dad tells him that he is dying from cancer. Not only that, he wants Flynn to drive him to Mexico for some experimental treatment and promises that it won't cost more than $5 a day in traveling expenses. This is because he has been given the use of a car, a pink beetle, with a sign for "Sweet and Low" sugar substitute. He also has a deal with Ihop for free meals and friends to stay with, like Dolores (Sharon Stone), along the way. If there aren't any pals, they can bunk in empty houses with "for sale" signs in the yard! Ha! Very reluctantly, Flynn agrees to go. At first, a reconciliation between the two men seems possible. But, can Flynn really trust that his father is telling the truth? As they journey, Flynn calls Maggie's answering machine and leaves messages that reveal more and more of the person he really is. Will they stay a couple, too? This truly enjoyable and sometimes tender film is just great for film fans looking for a change of pace. Nivola, so handsome, does a great job as the conflicted Flynn while Walken delivers another fine turn as the aging huckster. Stone's role is small but lively while Peet displays a fine sensitivity with a minimum of lines. Other cast members are good, too. As one might expect, the changing scenery across the United States is very lovely while costumes, photography, script and direction are quite up to snuff. In short, even if you must pay five bucks for a movie rental, this one has hidden treasures.

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31 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

Premier at TIFF....

9/10
Author: Jamesbond1974 from Canada
6 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First off I have to say that Chris Walken is one of my favorite actors, so for me this movie was a "reel" find at the Toronto International Film Festival. This film was also shot over 29 day, and has a feeling of a real campy type of movie. I hope the some movie company picks this film up because I have to say for an Indie film it was very well made.

The plot happens when Nat, Chris Walken's character is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and his son is some what Shanghaied into going on a road trip with his father, who has really never been their for him. Alessandro Nivola plays Finn his son. Finn was let go from his job as a health inspector, his girlfriend as dumps him, Maggie (played by Amanda Peet) Their is also a cameo (actually a bit more then one) by Sharon Stone as well, who was Finn's babysitter. So this film is pretty much a road trip film.

I hope someone will release this into the movie theaters, as I think Christopher Walken is one of the finest actors of the 20th and 21st century.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Cute

5/10
Author: cashman1955 from United States
11 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

That's about all I can say about this one. It's not funny enough to really be called a comedy, and the 'dramatic' moments are silly instead of dramatic. If you like Christopher Walken you will probably like this, as he indeed is the star, unlike in some of his other recent movies where he comes and goes like a fog. Sharon Stone does her usual act as a slut to perfection, making me throw up a little in my mouth. The son could have been played by any of a million actors (or non actors) just as well. Amanda Peet will not be remembered for this role, probably not even by her mother or PR man. It's a road movie, with Walken demonstrating how he has perfected the art of living on $5 a day.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Offbeat, touching, and enjoyable seriocomic sleeper

8/10
Author: Woodyanders (Woodyanders@aol.com) from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
12 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Irrepresibly wily'n'rascally small-time con man Nat Parker (a marvelously sly, vibrant, and charismatic performance by Christopher Walken) attempts to reconnect with his troubled and estranged failure son Ritchie (an excellent portrayal by Alessandro Nivola) by forcing the reluctant lad to accompany him on a cross country road trip. During their journey the duo encounter a colorful array of folks and make amends while Nat pulls off a series of brazen and ingenious schemes. Director Nigel Cole, working from a smart and sweet script by Neal and Tippi Dobrofsky, relates the funny, poignant, and entertaining story at a snappy pace, maintains a winningly breezy'n'quirky tone throughout, offers an amusing sense of inspired low-key and likable oddball humor, and pulls off a pitch-perfect blend of fresh comedy and affecting drama. The sturdy acting from the able cast rates as a real substantial plus: Walken and Nivola display a disarmingly natural and engaging chemistry in the leads, with top-rate support from Sharon Stone as sassy former beauty queen Dolores Jones, Amanda Peet as Ritchie's fed-up girlfriend Maggie, Peter Coyote as shifty rich jerk Burt Kruger, and Dean Cain as amiable sales rep Rick Carlson. Moreover, the nicely moving theme about reconciliation gives this picture a special extra heart, charm, and warmth. Kudos are also in order for Peter Donahue's smooth jazzy score and Alex Wurman's sunny cinematography. A pleasingly loopy little delight.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

perfectly fine for fun

8/10
Author: zif ofoz from United States
2 March 2013

there isn't really much to say about this movie. the other reviewers have said about all that can be said. BUT i do not understand nor agree with the more negative reviews.

this story is nicely told and at times very funny and thoughtful. there are implausible and plausible situations these two cross country travelers find themselves or rather 'get' themselves into. the dialog and character development are adequate and easy to follow. in other words it's an easy light hearted story that is strictly for entertaining you. not deep thinking or symbolism.

this is an excellent choice for easy entertainment and having a few laffs along the way! give it a look - you'll like it.

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What a wonderful movie!

9/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
27 September 2016

Christopher Walken and Alessandro Nivola, along with Amanda Peet and Sharon Stone, star in "$5 a Day," an independent film from 2008.

In L.A., Flynn Parker's (Nivola) job as a health inspector comes to an end when it's learned he spent some time in prison. At the same time, his girlfriend Maggie (Amanda Peet) moves out on him because he's a liar and doesn't tell her anything.

Meanwhile his father, Nat (Walken) asks Flynn to come to Atlantic City. The two are estranged, but Flynn goes. Nat, a con artist who is responsible for Flynn going to prison, tells his son he's dying. He wants Flynn to take him to New Mexico so he can try an experimental treatment.

Begrudginly, Flynn agrees, until he sees the pink car with a huge packet of Sweet 'n' Low painted on it and then thousands of little Sweet 'n' Lows. Nat gets free gas for a year if he drives this moving advertisement 1,000 miles a month.

The question is, can they find some common ground? Be honest? Flynn calls Maggie along the way and leaves her messages about the trip, in an effort to be truthful and open. he trip is not just about the past, but whether either can tell the truth. Little does he know, he's been lied to about almost everything by his father.

This is a funny, warm film with a lovely performance by Nivola, a relaxed actor who underplays. He is perfect with Walken, who seems to always play eccentric characters. Here he's hilarious with an underlying layer of sadness. My favorite con is his brunch order at the hotel, but my favorite scene takes place when he crashes a business party.

Sharon Stone plays Dolores, a friend of Nat's whom they visit along the way. Stone is tanned, sexy, with legs up to her neck and, at 50, a gorgeous body which she shows off in a bikini. She gives a fun, lively performance. Peter Coyote has a role toward the end of the film as a sort of ex-friend of Nat's.

The last scenes are powerful and poignant.

Directed by Nigel Cole, this beautifully done film, written by Neal and Tippi Dobrofsky and, excluding salaries, costing 3 million, took 23 days to film. Don't miss it.

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