$5 A Day refers to how much someone can get by on a day; this includes food, shelter and transportation, accompanied with a great con. If you know how to work the system, then the system will work for you. Much like the title of this film, $5 A Day can get by on its charming low-budget mentality, although flawed it comes together in an unexpected way that becomes satisfying.
This film, directed by Nigel Cole, toured the festival circuit for a year, playing at Toronto International Film Festival and Palm Springs, to name a few, before having a limited release in Los Angeles and New York. If you were unable to catch this film, you can now.
Flynn (Alessandro Nivola) has just lost his job and his girlfriend of two years (Amanda Peet). When he is confronted with news that his father is dying, he decides to make a trip to Atlantic City to see if he really is on his deathbed. Christopher Walken play’s Flynn’s father, Nat Parker, who is a small-time conman; scamming radio shows and phone deals so that he never has to pay for anything and has lied about almost everything. After convincing Flynn to take him on a road trip across the county, they slowly mend a relationship that was built on lies and start a relationship that they never really had.
Walken is truly dynamic in this film. As long as the camera stays on him you can believe that he is lying about everything and at the same time he is doing it for the love of his son. The director has given Walken room to be nimble, dance and even the time to pause and reflect, which is so rare and often missed in father/son films. The whole film Nat is looking to be accepted by his son and you believe in his genuine goal.
The film unpretentiously combines comedy and drama in a way that seems so simple, but really is quite difficult to execute. The little nuances of driving an obnoxious pink “Sweet n Low” car and eating at Ihop restaurants are familiar and funny in their tackiness.
There is not much time spent on back-stories of the characters, which is both a good and bad thing for the film. It is not fully understood when and why Nat and Flynn had such a bad relationship. But the film is consistent, always moving forward. They are more often seen arriving somewhere then driving to that destination. They become closer out of proximity and when they run into different people along the way and spend time together, Flynn pieces together a different story about his father.
$5 A Day is really a film about relationships and what it means to be a family, however flawed that it may be. Nat has been living by his own rules for so long and when you find out how flawed the relationship with his son really is, you cannot help but feel for the sincere bond between father and son.
The most worthy extras on the DVD are the Interviews with the cast/crew. There are multiple interviews, most notably with the Director, Nigel Cole and actress Sharon Stone. Unfortunately, there is no interview with Christopher Walken, but there are many informative and interesting interviews that are broken up in a way that give a great insight into how the film was made.