6.4/10
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$5 a Day (2008)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama | 11 January 2009 (USA)
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The son of a thrifty conman begrudgingly joins his father on the road.

Director:

Nigel Cole
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Walken ... Nat Parker
Alessandro Nivola ... Ritchie Flynn Parker
Sharon Stone ... Dolores Jones
Dean Cain ... Rick Carlson
Peter Coyote ... Burt Kruger
Amanda Peet ... Maggie
Luis Avalos ... Martinez
Beth Bailey ... Real Estate Lady
Marya Beauvais ... Realtor
Frank Bond ... Bar Manager
Vic Browder ... Salesman
Gregory Chase Gregory Chase ... Reporter (as Greg Chase)
Christopher Dempsey ... Tim Webber
Judith Greentree Judith Greentree ... IHOP Waitress
Christopher Hagen ... Marty
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Storyline

In L.A., Flynn Parker loses his job as a health inspector when his time in prison comes to light, his girlfriend Maggie moves out because of his prevarications, and his ne'er-do-well father, Nat, summons him to Atlantic City with a tale of a malignant cancer. Flynn doesn't like Nat, a small-time hustler and the cause of Flynn's jail time, but Nat cajoles his son into a cross-country trip through family memories toward New Mexico where an experimental treatment awaits. The trip is not just about the past, but whether either can tell the truth - and then what to do with those truths. From time to time, Flynn calls Maggie to leave messages. And what about Flynn's mother? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The best things in life are free! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 January 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Five Dollars a Day See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shot in twenty-three days. See more »

Goofs

When Nat and Ritchie start out on their trip Nat makes Ritchie pull over quickly to get a hair cut. In the background you can see a toll booth. Later in the film you can see them swerve off the freeway with the same toll booth in the background. See more »

Quotes

Nat Parker: Yeah, shake your head. These are memories. You'll see what it's like when things stop happening on command. Half mast, and I'm not even dead yet.
Ritchie Flynn Parker: What are you saying, you're impotent?
Nat Parker: I'm saying I can't get it up most of the time.
Ritchie Flynn Parker: Since when?
Nat Parker: Since - it's hard to say. A couple of years, maybe five.
Ritchie Flynn Parker: Well, have you tried taking those pills?
Nat Parker: They're junk. They don't work.
Ritchie Flynn Parker: Where did you buy them off, a fruit truck?
Nat Parker: What difference does it make? They don't work. I don't work. The clock is ticking. ...
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Connections

References The Great Escape (1963) See more »

Soundtracks

Lifeline
Written by Gary Kemp
Performed by Spandau Ballet
Reformation Publishing Co. Ltd. (BMI
Licensed Courtesy of EMI Capital Records Inc.
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User Reviews

 
I'd buy that for a dollar (or five)
1 May 2016 | by pyrocitorSee all my reviews

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.

-6.5/10


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