$5 a Day is a earnest road-trip movie about a son’s reconciliation with his grifter father. The film opens with a classic Screenwriting 101 twist of fate: Just after our protagonist, Ritchie Flynn (Alessandro Nivola) gets fired from his job as a Health Inspector, his girlfriend (Amanda Peet) dumps him. This conveniently frees up his schedule for a wacky cross-country drive with Nat (the one and only Christopher Walken), his father, a con man from Atlantic City who claims to be dying. Along the way they come to understand each other, they scam various salesmen, and they hang out with Flynn’s old babysitter (an uncomfortably tan Sharon Stone).
So first of all, let me say that Amanda Peet is very good at seeming fed up. I have seen at least 43 movies where Amanda Peet is just miffed at something or other, and I feel pretty secure in saying that I think maybe she actually is just very disappointed as a human being. Or she is a disappointment pretending genius. She gets so fed up, that I feel like I personally, even though I am watching her movie on Netflix a good 5 years after she made it, am somehow watching it in the wrong way and offending her. I feel like I should pack up my bags and just go. Her frustration transcends time and media. Kudos to Amanda Peet. The Scrunchy Onion award goes to her, hands down.
Okay, nextly, let me say that even though I think of Alessandro Nivola as a poor man’s Sam Rockwell, or as the man who is lucky enough to married to Emily Mortimer, he did a pretty good job in this movie. Also, his name is like Tennessee; it had too many of the same letters in it. It makes me feel weird. But Alessandro-ness aside, he really makes Flynn a sympathetic chap, despite the fact that the screenwriters made little effort to provide actual events to explain his personal transformations. Kudos to you, Mr. Nivola. You win the Stoic Carrot award for your strong chin and your independent acting choices.
Now, as I have not yet gotten to the Walken in the room, I will say this about Sharon Stone: Her boobs look very nice, but she is orange. I don’t know if this was a movie-choice or a life-choice, but she has turned herself into an Oompa Loompa. If Orange is the new Black, then Sharon Stone wears overalls and works in a chocolate factory. ‘Nuff said? No Golden Globes for you this time, Ms. Stone. Go polish them orange ones instead.
So, yes. Christopher Walken is in this movie. And, yes, this is why we chose this movie. It’s Christopher Walken!! Not that he doesn’t make some stinkers, but, well, even when he does, it’s still a pleasure to watch. Hell, it’s a pleasure to watch him make a chicken. That said, he is really lovely in this role. He is subtle and detailed in his portrayal of Nat, and doesn’t rely on his affectations or odd mannerisms. He is so simple and honest that this movie is not really successful as a comedy. I’m not really sure it’s successful as a drama either. Walken hits one beautiful note, then sustains it for an hour and a half. One lovely, low note does not make a symphony, although Walken, true to form, dances as if it does. Yes, folks, there is a dance scene. I’m sure the C-Walks demanded it, and I was grateful. Mr. Walken, you win the Tab Award for Best Motorcross Robot built in a painting.
Off-topic, I would like to request that Paul Rudd and Chris Walken dance together in a movie. Hopefully, in a re-make of one of those “Breakin'” movies, where they play leaders of fighting dance gangs.
So, I don’t know, man. I was expecting a pile of poo or a surprising glorious moon, and this movie was neither one of those things. It was a solid, decent movie, but you don’t need to see it. I just don’t think it’s going to surprise you or make you think about anything. If I were you, I would just rent Seven Psychopaths. Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell. Plus, Martin McDonagh wrote it. But, back to $5 a Day. Listen, if we’re rating it on the Booby scale, I would give it two mid-sized boobies in a loose-fitting shirt. Solid, but not stopping traffic.
I get the fact that the father is thrifty (if not just a charming liar), but why is the movie called “$5 a Day.” I mean, I get it. They did strange things to not spend much. But there was no “We have to only spend $5 a day or we are going to A. starve, B. explode or C. turn into green aliens, making this a movie worth Katharine’s time. I mean, how am I supposed to play the “Drink when you hear the movie title” game if they never say it?!
And can we continue to talk about Sharon Stone? I think we can all agree that she is a beautiful lady. But I think you can actually see too much of anyone. Sure, in theory anyone should want to watch Ms. Stone walking around in lingerie. Nope. That theory’s still sound. But why so orange?
I was about to go into a tirade regarding the different hues of tan the character could have be, but then realized that perhaps Ms. Stone is a genius. Her character is in the movie perhaps 20 minutes. Yet, what do we discuss? An orange Stone glowing in lingerie. Brilliant.
So what else do I remember of this film. Hmmm… The performances were good, the story was fine and glowing orange stones. Oh, and a Sweet ‘N Low car. Who I’m assuming sponsored a large portion of this film or at least donated the car.
But, it wasn’t bad. That sounds harsh. It was somewhat enjoyable? There, that’s better. Right? Alex?
Alex: *snorts, raises head from drool pool* Oh, hey! I agree that Alessandro and Chris give pretty earnest, genuine performances. They do their damndest with dialogue has all the novelty and nuance of a Meatloaf song, and politely ignore the blaring incidents of product placement that become monumental distractions from the wafer-thin plot premise (see Kath’s reference to the bright pink vehicle inexplicably plastered with the Sweet ‘n’ Low logo. They drive from New Jersey to Mexico in that thing. Chevron, HoJo’s, and Cadillac also make un-subtle cameo appearances). Sharon Stone shows up to chew some scenery and reprise her creepy cougar role from Broken Flowers (this performance was so similar, in fact, that I kept getting confused and wondering where Bill Murray was. Then again I wonder that while watching a lot of movies).
Some good stuff: I enjoyed the recurring humor of Nat’s black socks (he wears them to bed! and in the ocean!!), and that Richie kept thinking he was dead, and that the entire movie looked like it was shot through an Instagram filter. Plus, it was educational! As a result of watching this film, I know how to grift free room service, steal pubic hair, fake a paternity test, fudge a cancerous X-ray, and piss off my no-good son in the name of a few thousand dollars. I also need to start working the expressions “You’re pure flame!” and “I slept like a polar bear” into my vocabulary. (Imagine them spoken by Christopher Walken – right??) In light of its dubious hits and charming misses, I hereby award $5 A Day my gold-plated “Meh” rating.
Kath: So we all agree!! Here is our “We all agree” photo. Enjoy it more than the movie.
Now go get yourself a little treat, you’ve done some fine work today.
Hey Boys and Girls, this here’s a new feature on the Booby Hatch blog in which we review movies! Films, even! Maybe web shows and banner ads too! Get on board, Space Coasters – OFF WE GO.
Alex: I just wanna begin by saying that I felt sort of robbed by The Château, an odd little gem from 2001. Based on the movie poster (below) I don’t think it was unreasonable to expect a madcap parade of hilarious cultural misunderstandings involving farm life, saucy nudity, and the repeated mispronunciation of French – basically, Benny Hill in Bourgogne. What The Château delivers instead isn’t bad exactly but is certainly…not that.
The film follows Graham Granville (played by Paul Rudd), an aimless fuckup from Lawrence, Kansas and his adopted older brother Alan (or “Rex” as he is known, played by Romany Malco) as they travel from Los Angeles to rural France to claim a castle inherited from a recently-deceased uncle. After overcoming the initial language barrier and the fact that the staff (who still lives in the castle) wasn’t expecting them, Graham and Rex develop a tenuous rapport with Jean, the butler, and Isabelle, the demure maid, but are then saddled with the responsibility of either selling or saving the crumbling home. Rex, a practical neat freak, wants to sell it immediately along with the staff (what?? Are we in feudal France?), presumably to shore up his small business that specializes in “solutions for premature ejaculation” (yeah – not nearly as funny as it sounds). Graham eventually agrees, but closing a sale proves harder than they thought – cue a droll cameo by Donal Logue as un sac de douche Americain interested in buying the property.
“Droll” really is the key word here, in its most literal French sense – the humor is…subtle, hinging on differences between the brothers (Graham leaves his shoes on the train- ha!), between France and America (much is made of Graham’s veganism, which the French clearly don’t “get” – at one point they serve him an entire boar’s head, hair and all), and between the respective languages (the dead uncle’s surname is Leconte – get it?? HOURS OF FUN.) I can say I enjoyed The Château, mostly thanks to Malco and Rudd’s respective charms; it just would have been easier if I hadn’t been expecting National Lampoon’s Gallic Vacation. The entire film is shot in a dim, grainy glow – it reminded me a lot of Watcher in the Woods – and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see an elderly Betty Davis lurking around the castle instead of Isabelle, whose moony eyes started to creep me out. Maybe the cinematographer was trying to set a mood (I get it! The South of France is really brown and twiggy!), but the effect was less “art house comedy” and more “middle-period George Harrison music video”. There are some charming moments, to be sure: Rex yelling “Je suis le roi du château!!” and beatboxing with Isabelle, or every time Rudd attempts to speak French, but overall The Château suffered from a severe international identity crisis. Ladies?
Kath: They had me when Rudd said, “What am I going to do when I get to France?.. Love the ladies!” They lost me by playing bad porn music during the montage of Rudd and Malco driving up to the Chateau. They had me when Rudd started speaking English in a bad French accent since he knew few French words and they used English subtitles anyways. They lost me when Rudd went from charming dork to a cautionary tale you tell your daughters to avoid. I wish I could tell you it ended well, but I don’t actually remember. I blame the wine I drank.
Sabrina: As someone who has stayed in a town near Lawrence, Kansas,* I can assure you that Paul Rudd does a really funny, weird dance-walk as he and the guy who was also in The Forty-Year Virgin stroll through the village in France. Remember when Paul Rudd danced on The Daily Show ? This scene was JUST LIKE THAT, except if the Daily Show studio was a village in France, Jon Stewart was that other guy, and instead of having a really good camera and a professional crew, I just shot it on my iPhone. Totally worth the price of admission!!!!** I laughed; I cried; I doodled a picture of Paul Rudd’s smile on a napkin.
Oh, I can also tell you that it took me about half of the movie to figure out who the other guy (Romany Malco) was. I honestly can’t tell you anything about the first part of the movie at all, because I was too busy yelling, “Wait, who IS that guy? I know him from somewhere!” Finally, my husband told me who he was as he rolled his eyes and finished the last of my peanut-brickled iced cream. It was then I realized that I have become an eighty-year old woman.
So, if you would like to see Paul Rudd do one of his silly and charming dances, and you would like to get in touch with your inner grandmother, I highly recommend watching this movie right away.*** If you would like to see Paul Rudd get his dance on, but want to skip the flick, check this out!
*Kansas City. I do have a friend who lives in Lawrence. I think he just directed The Odd Couple. Now that’s a movie!! Hey, maybe they should just remake The Odd Couple with Paul Rudd and the other guy from this movie.**** I bet that would be pretty good. They should probably get a new camera though. And some lights.
**I watched this movie for free on the Netflix, says this grandmother.
***I just remembered that the end of this movie kind of makes you say, “Wait, hey, why did that happen? That doesn’t make any sense at all.” And then, if you’re me, and/or you are eighty, you will spend the next twenty minutes explaining why that was a terrible way to end the film and going over the 47 reasons why. This is the reason I am no longer allowed to watch Brewster’s Millions or The Money Pit.
****That guy was in Weeds? Yeah, I guess so.
Kath: The Forty-Year Virgin!! THAT’s who that guy is! Jay-z-us, that took years off my life. I still don’t remember how it ends.
Oprah & Ebert-style Book Club G-chat:
Sabrina: So do we want/need a rating system? 3 boobies up?
Kath: That’s a great idea! I give it 1/2 a wormy boob.
Alex: I give it one boob with stretch marks.
Sabrina: I give it two old-lady boobs out of five nice 20-year old boobs. Wait…what’s the scale?
Alex: I thought it was outta three.
Sabrina: Oh, ok, then it’s one old boob.
Alex: But seriously, were you two as confused as I was about like…what the hell kind of movie the director wanted to make?
Sabrina: Was there a director? I thought someone just used a flip cam. Paul Rudd’s wife maybe.
Alex: *puts on research goggles* It was directed by Jesse Peretz, who at the time was best known for directing that Foo Fighters video where they pretend to be in a Mentos commercial? Also THIS, which I will admit to enjoying.
Kath: I don’t “do” links. what is it?
Alex: Our Idiot Brother – Jesse, you’re alright with me. You’re like pizza and funerals. You bring people together.
Kath: The Château had potential… then went wackawoo.
Sabrina: It’s crazy. The butler guy who is his uncle pretends to die, then for SOME reason, this makes them not sell the house and give it to the hot maid, then she goes to Barcelona on a train with her toddler ?????? (oh wait did I just reveal one of the big reveals? not really)
Alex: Yeah, how are we supposed to feel when she takes off? “You go girl”? Cuz I was confused.
Kath: The writer couldn’t figure out how to end it.
Alex: I agree. Or they ran outta money.
Kath: They should have put endings in a hat and just picked one, instead of giving us a wet fart and a handshake. Example: lots of talk about how the black and white dudes were brothers, but no back story.
Sabrina: Yeah. I felt like they thought they could get a lot of mileage out of that hilarious joke.
Alex: Ok, so in a prequel who would play Graham and Rex? Jaden Smith?
Kath: Please no.
Sabrina: And Fred Savage?
Kath: Maaaaaybe his son…if he has one. That dude is our age.
Sabrina: Martin Short, dressed like a kid?
Kath: I vote Martin Short!!!
Alex: Oh sure; Jaden Smith could totally act opposite Martin Short and hold his own.
Sabrina: Does the prequel begin in a karate school or is Peter Falk reading to them?
Kath: Peter Falk is teaching karate!
Alex: Ok, anything else we wanna say about The Château?
Sabrina: *tries to make loud fart noises so that Kath will have to shhh me*
Alex: *begins the ever-popular “armpit fart”* Beans I’m totally editing this into the post.
Sabrina: That’s the stuff! We are the best. I want to marry us.
Kath: *actually farts*