For some reason, Christopher Walken attracts people. His acting style is unique and his physical presence on screen is just magnetic. He is one of the very few actors who happens to be good in both dramas and comedies. So, when I learned that he was part of the film "$5 a Day," I couldn't wait. And I have to say this movie doesn't disappoint - it is smart and funny, a total delight, with Walken being responsible for much of it.
Directed by Nigel Cole, who also helmed the wonderful "Calendar Girls" (2003), this picture has been referred by some as a road movie, which may be the case. Walken stars as Nat Parker, a good-natured and hearted drifter, con artist, scam operator - he likes everything for free, provided he can get away with it --, who learns that he has a brain tumor and is about to die. He contacts Ritchie Flynn (Alessandro Nivola), his only son, and asks him to take him to New Mexico for a new, free treatment. Problem is, Ritchie has problems of his own, including an imminent divorce from his wife Maggie (Amanda Peet), and being fired from his job as a Health Inspector. Needless to say, he was also recently released from jail. As you can imagine, growing up with Nat, he inherited some of his "talents." Ritchie accepts against his will, and they travel by car from New Jersey to New Mexico, making stops in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Along the way, as expected, many things happen - some hilarious --, which make Ritchie learn more about his father. Along the way, too, they visit Dolores Jones (the very sexy Sharon Stone), who happened to be Ritchie's baby-sitter, and with whom Ritchie had a crush as a kid. This is pure gold.
"$5 a Day" feels fresh and it makes you feel good. It is also tender and touching, with awesome photography by Peter Donahue. The film also stars Peter Coyote and Dean Cain. The DVD includes director and cast interviews and more. (USA, 2008, color, 98 min plus additional materials). Image Entertainment.
Exclusively reviewed by Eric Gonzalez for [...] on September 6, 2010.