$5 a Day (2008) Poster


User Reviews

Add a Review
19 Reviews
Sort by:
A tip-top lowball roadmovie with grifts galore - excellent indie flick
intelearts19 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.
50 out of 61 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
"$5 a Day" is the best of indie film-making
napierslogs19 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.
18 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Idea May Not Be New, But This Film Is FRESH!
gradyharp31 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
20 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
cashman195511 June 2012
Warning: 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.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Worth much more than 5 bucks, a very enjoyable and tender film
Amy Adler29 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.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Father&Son grifters hit the road ............
merklekranz30 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
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Offbeat, touching, and enjoyable seriocomic sleeper
Woodyanders12 July 2012
Warning: 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.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Premier at TIFF....
Jamesbond19746 September 2008
Warning: 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.
31 out of 56 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
perfectly fine for fun
zif ofoz2 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.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Can't think of a title appropriate enough
Roger Hamilton30 June 2016
How can one leave this movie without trying to say something good about it, without sounding pretentious. At my age, 76, I thought I'd long done watching 2-D unlikely representations of "real life" ( whatever that might be ). Just about everything in it contributed to a masterpiece; from C Walken's acting to the beautifully controlled edited photography. Maybe I should say NOW I've done watching moving pictures; how can any production come up to the standard of this one, except perhaps by the team directly involved in it ? Surely this is how to make a movie; the only way !

Apparently I am obliged to contribute at least 10 lines of text, but if I add more it will become an attempt to gild the lily. Let the genuine plaudits say all that needs be said, like the spontaneous applause for a real artist; what else is required ?
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Fun Ride (pun intended) all the way across the USA!
vickila124 September 2017
At the Palm Springs Film Festival a few years ago, I saw one of the best movies ever starring the "how can you ever go wrong" versatile and totally entertaining actor, Christopher Walken! That's the reason I opted for the film knowing nothing about the theme beforehand. I loved every minute and you will too and don't listen to the one bad review from an odd thinking person on here (or that's my opinion).

I LOVED the product placement, especially the Pink vehicle entirely wrapped with Sweet and Low ads all over it which added to the hilarity of the movie. I won't give away anything on the story line because the other reviews have outlined some of the moments. You will LOVE this movie for so many reasons and one of them is Sharon Stone but basically the story and acting by "father and son" on the road trip is just terrific. Rent or buy it, you will want to see it again, I know I do!!! Love you Chris!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Fun and Enjoyable Film
rleegray-569-581589 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This is a light-hearted, funny and warm movie that gave me a very enjoyable watching experience. The script is well-written and the acting is wonderful from the entire cast. Walken proves why he is one of the best actors of the last century, proving again he is capable of both dramatic and comedic performances. With his deadpan sense of humor and acting ability, he owns every scene he is in. Sharon Stone is wonderful in delicious role of Dolores, and Nivola proves to have chemistry and acts well with both.

The plot is simple and formulaic but the writer provides enough twists and turns to keep it interesting.

The characters are very endearing, and fill out this wonderful road movie that at times is funny, moving and poignant. I recommend it to anyone who just wants a fun experience with a movie.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
What a wonderful movie!
blanche-227 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.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
I'd buy that for a dollar (or five)
pyrocitor1 May 2016
Stop me if you've heard this one: a deadbeat dad and his troubled, estranged son are forced into a reluctant cross-country road trip, only to reconnect through a series of hilarious misadventures. Yep. Not only is the cliché already trod to death, but it's a road Walken himself had already gone down only four years prior with Around the Bend (this time subbing out Michael Caine for Alessandro Nivola, aka, 'the poor man's Sam Rockwell'). Creativity is not the name of the game here.

Still, $5 a Day manages to circumvent its feeble premise with surprisingly disarming sweetness and charm aplenty, even managing to raise a few unreserved laughs here and there. Walken and Nivolo weave through a series of free samples, promotions, time shares, idle theft, falsified birthdays, and a fun and slinky Sharon Stone cameo, in the interests of keeping as low an economic footprint as possible (some of their escapades, I'm ashamed to admit, I'm sorely tempted to try - that hotel room service theft gag looks mighty doable...) and to become, in Walken's words, "copacetic again," even as his pathological lying leaves the viewer idly guessing throughout as to his motivations.

Their adventures may not reinvent the wheel, but they grow increasingly pleasant over time. Screenwriters Tippi and Neal Dobrofsky work in just enough wacky lines to keep things lively (the scene where a tipsy Nivola attempts to explain to a nonplussed Walken how a question mark is a hieroglyph representing the ass of a cat walking away disapprovingly alone is one for the ages). It's deceptively easy to ride alongside them, and even as the plot curves to inevitably digging into their past trauma and fractured relationships, it's handled in an impressively level and truthful fashion.

If anything, the film deserves some metatextual cudos for the astonishing amount of unabashed product placement it sneaks in, which likely substantiated its tiny indie budget. I'm serious - in a single shot alone, they park their 'Sweet 'n Low-mobile' in an IHOP parking lot across from a Chevron, with a McDonald's and Days Inn in the background. In any other film this blatant excess would be gross, but here the depth of field alone is kind of impressively resourceful.

Nivola, contrary to my earlier dismissal, does some very good work here, carrying the emotional arc of the story with a subtle affability. Still, there's no question that $5 a Day exists as a Walken vehicle above all else, and he redefines the term 'charming the pants off' his audience here. Namely, because he seems to spend roughly half the movie with his pants off. Here, he dusts off his 'charismatic loser dad' schtick he could probably do in his sleep by now. Still, he's having such an absolute ball that it's hard not to share in his fun. When you least expect it, he pulls the rug out from you by locking down into almost panic attack levels of silent dread when confronted with questions his denial simply prevents him from answering. Then, within moments, he's back to bounding, dancing, grinning, and unexpectedly yelling joyful battle cries like "Yabbo!!" and "Wahaaaa!!" throughout. It's a deceptively nuanced performance amongst the goofy posturing, and he's so lovable throughout that it's no wonder that even Nivola seems to break his character's righteously indignant grumpiness strangely early, unable to keep a huge grin off his face throughout.

$5 a Day's broad comedy and inspirational strokes may not look like much on the surface, but it's brimming with indie sweetness, and thoroughly hard to dislike, cliché or not. Walken is its lynchpin, in a perfect cocktail of his most charismatic, wacky, sombre, cavorting, and remorseful leitmotifs that somehow blend into an individual that still feels fresh and heartfelt amidst the Walken tics. A low key but surprisingly enjoyable hidden gem worth dredging up amidst the copious dreck occupying the latter half of Walken's career, if only to see him firing on all four cylinders here.

0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Not-to-be-missed comedy/drama -- wise and wonderful!
hudsondeal20 December 2014
I'm surprised at the relatively low rating of this outstanding comic drama. Very few films nowadays make me laugh out loud as this one did, in more than one place. I laughed not as you might expect at the antics of the great Christopher Walken but at the deft plots turns which make this film stand among others of its type, that being, a decadent father being reconciled with an angry son. This film, in my opinion, deserves to be listed among the most successful comedies of the past decade, and of course I say "comedy" in the original sense of a serious story -- that could have been a tragedy -- with a redemptive ending. Alessandro Nivola, whose face I have seen often but whose name I had not remembered, is a wonderful actor who I now will follow more closely. He has a broad range and moves naturally across the spectrum of emotions appropriate to this narrative. He's handsome, of course, but both director and actor made sure his good looks don't appear out of place in a "road movie" about two "failed" men.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Far under the radar, but it's fantastic
Sandcooler28 September 2014
As a huge Christopher Walken fan, I always enjoy it when movies actually bother to have him play a character. Lots of directors hire Walken for an auto-pilot job, to have him do his usual thing for two or three scenes and then vanish. Don't get me wrong, I love those appearances as well, but here he actually seems to enjoy himself because of the challenge he gets. His performance here is subtle (no, I'm serious), composed and comical right when it needs to be. There's some good chemistry with Alessandro Nivola as well, the father-son bonding seems very genuine. In typical road movie fashion there isn't much of a plot, but there are just enough story elements to keep the movie interesting. The only thing that brings the movie down a bit is the detour they take to meet Sharon Stone's character, who doesn't serve much of a purpose and seems copy-pasted from Jim Jarmusch's "Broken Flowers". Apart from that, this movie is bittersweet and very touching, kind of a shame it's that unknown.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
only Christopher Walken here
SnoopyStyle8 January 2014
Flynn Parker (Alessandro Nivola) is a corrupt health inspector who loses his job for not disclosing his criminal past. His girlfriend Maggie (Amanda Peet) moves out for keeping too many secrets. His con artist father Nat (Christopher Walken) tells him he's dying of cancer, and they go on a cross-country trip to New Mexico for an experimental treatment. Nat is proud of living on no more than $5 a day.

There isn't any real tension in this. I can't really understand why Flynn would go on the trip. He must be thinking his father is lying. It's completely out of character that Nivola has already laid out for Flynn. It seems much more likely that he would put his father on the Greyhound.

That aside, it's still nice to see Christopher Walken chew up the screen in this indie. Nivola is a completely low energy dude. He's not very compelling. There is a desperate need for funnier jokes to make this a fun dark comedy. It just isn't funny. Some of it is mildly cute.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Can't drink a Pepsi now without thinking of Christopher Walken . . .
charlytully16 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
. . . but haven't found out where to get such a Sweet 'n Low-down deal yet, either. Not everyone who sees $5 A DAY is likely to sleep on the bare floors of foreclosed houses on their next road trip. (Would the plumbing even be hooked up?) Nor will they necessarily find room service waiters as gullible as the one featured in this movie. In real life, a person might have to live to the age of 147 or so to recoup the cost of making 365 (counting leap year: do the math) fake driver's licenses so EVERY day is a free day at restaurants offering birthday dinners gratis (where I live, you get 1% off for each year of age, meaning such notable oldsters as Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and Ben Franklin ALL would have croaked before "earning" a free lunch). However, Walken's final destination, as a member of the so-called "Pepsi Generation," will have few thinking "things go better with Coke." Now, if I can just settle on WHICH sponsor to seek for an ad-mobile with 1,000-miles-a-month worth of free gas, I can get on with my own product placement project in real life. Since pink is not my color, I won't be applying to S & L, as Christopher does in his $5 starring vehicle. A nice black SUV from Switzer's licorice could provide enough room for BOTH free samples and my travel gear . . . BUT a classy yellow Butterfingers-mobile would not be too shabby for when the munchies strike, either.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
NO, not a good movie at all
nwsts30 October 2010
This movie has despicable characters doing despicable things unrelentingly throughout the entire running time. The entire movie consists of scam artists ripping off (or worse) decent people. The scams are not cute, they are not clever, they are just plain mean. The actors themselves are terrific and their likable personalities shine through...just not enough to overcome the seat squirming activities of their characters. If you're in the mood a low budget movie that makes you feel uncomfortable for 98 minutes, this is the movie for you. However, if you want a fantastic low budget movie where the actors really shine in their roles, try Morgan Freeman's "10 Items Or Less." IMDb 6.7 (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0499603/)
3 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews