$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.