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:

Relationships don't come cheap! 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

The only scene not written in the script was the scene with Nivola and Walken in the sales condo talking about the cat and the question mark. See more »

Goofs

When they stop at an IHOP in Altoona Pa. There has never been an IHOP in Altoona Pa. See more »

Quotes

Nat Parker: The fact is, I don't want you to do this. I need you to. I need to make things copacetic between us. I know I've been a terrible father. It's not a thing I can ignore. Sometimes for no particular reason, life falls off and knocks you flat. Slams you so hard against the wind, you think that all your insides are busted. But if you look for something to replace what's broken, if you're luck, you can find it.
[looks at his son]
Nat Parker: You're all I have.
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Connections

References The Great Escape (1963) See more »

Soundtracks

Many Happy Returns
Written by Andy Partridge
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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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 January 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Five Dollars a Day See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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