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$5 a Day (Blu-ray Review)

17 Aug, 2010 By: Daniel Xu

Street 8/24/10
$27.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sexual content, brief nudity and language.
Stars Christopher Walken, Sharon Stone, Amanda Peet, Peter Coyote.

The opening of $5 a Day introduces Flynn (Alessandro Nivola), a health inspector who just lost his job and girlfriend, and is informed that his distanced father is dying. With reluctance, he decides to pay a visit.

Nivola gives a convincing portrayal of a man struggling to come to terms with an identity forged by his con artist father, Nat (Christopher Walken). As soon as Walken comes onscreen, however, his patented deadpan, offbeat and unique screen presence takes over center stage for the rest of the movie.

Nat convinces Flynn to drive him cross-country for an experimental treatment, and a refreshingly original road-trip movie ensues where the goofy happenstances are of the travelers’ own making. Claiming to live like a king for just $5 a day, Nat hustles up whatever freebies he can find: from using fake IDs for free birthday meals to spending the night in an empty for-sale house (and waking up to the realtor leading in a couple of potential buyers).

At its heart the movie is about an aging father on a last-ditch effort to reconnect with his son, and the road turns into memory lane. One pit stop they take is at the residence of Flynn’s old baby-sitter — lavishly portrayed by the gorgeous Sharon Stone — whose admiration for Nat compels her to reveal a secret to Flynn about his parents’ breakup.

Still, Walken’s crafty and emotional performance is the highlight of $5 a Day, keeping the sentimental overtone grounded enough not to overshadow its delightful comedic flair, and giving the indie picture more than enough value to justify a price that, for Nat, may be slightly over budget.

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