Blu-ray Review HTF Blu-ray Review: $5 A Day

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Todd Erwin, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Cinematographer

    Apr 16, 2008
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    $5 A Day

    Studio: Image Entertainment
    US Release Date: August 24, 2010
    Original Release Year: 2009
    Rated: PG-13 (for sexual content, brief nudity, and language)
    Running Time: 98 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 widescreen 
    Audio: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
    Subtitles: English (SDH), Spanish

    Movie: 2.5 out of 5
    Ritchie (Alessandro Nivola, Jurassic Park III) is having a bad day. He lost his job as a Los Angeles Health Inspector when his boss discovers he had a felony conviction he failed to mention. His girlfriend (Amanda Peet) is leaving him, claiming she has no idea who he really is. Finally, his estranged father, Nat (Christopher Walken), has sent him a one-way ticket to Atlantic City, New Jersey, in hopes of reconciling with Ritchie before he dies. That’s the setup for $5 A Day, a manipulative road-trip dramedy from director Nigel Cole (Calendar Girls).

    When Ritchie arrives in Atlantic City, we find that Nat is a scam artist, winning concert tickets on the radio and then scalping them, and living off the generosity of merchandisers. He pays for his haircut by handing out promotional 30-minute Trac-Phone cards. His car is a driving advertisement for Sweet N Low, for which he receives free gasoline and use of the car. He uses fake ID’s to get free birthday meals and desserts at IHOP. Nat claims this allows him to live on only $5.00 a day. These often feel more like shameless product placements than real character traits.

    The marketing materials for $5 A Day woudl have you believe this is a wacky comedy and that Sharon Stone has a major role and accompanies the father and son on their road trip. Stone is just one of the guest stars in the film that the two men briefly visit on their journey, Ritchie’s former babysitter who has learned to be a scam artists herself from Nat. Dean Cain appears as a pharmaceutical rep at a corporate dinner that Nat crashes, a sequence that literally brings the film to a halt. Peter Coyote is a would-be politician who had an affair wit Ritchie’s mother before he was born, which is supposed to be the centerpiece scam of the picture. Is he or isn’t he Ritchie’s biological father? Since none of the characters are remotely likable and so under-written, I didn’t really care.

    The major draw is obviously Christopher Walken, but fans will likely be disappointed. His trademark charm and manic energy are mostly missing here, which are what made him standout in such films as Balls of FuryWedding CrashersMan On FireThe RundownCatch Me If You Can, andBlast From The Past, to name a few. What we are left with is a film that tries to be a father-sonTerms of Endearment, but feels more like an example of how to make a movie relying heavily on product placement.

    Video: 3 out of 5
    Image Entertainment’s 1080p AVC transfer is nothing to get overly excited about. Detail is soft, colors are muted, and the print appears to have an overall blue-ish tone, although it is free of dirt, scratches, and blemishes.

    Audio: 3 out of 5
    The DTS-HD Master Audio track offers increased fidelity, opening up the soundstage a bit more than one would expect in a film like this. Although dialogue-driven, the score by Alex Wurman adds some much-needed ambiance to the soundtrack.

    Special Features: 2 out of 5
    Not much in the way of special features are provided on this disc, and what is there is not overly compelling.

    Cast and Crew Interviews: Only a handful of interviews are provided, all in 1.33:1 standard definition. Noticeably absent is an interview with Walken.
    • Director Nigel Cole (10:34): Cole discusses what drew him to the film, casting the leads Walken and Nivola, and shooting the film in 23 days along Route 66.
    • Alessandro Nivola (7:00): Nivola discusses his character, working with Walken, improvisation on the set, and what attracted him to the film.
    • Sharon Stone (6:38): Stone, in full spray-on tan makeup, discusses her character and working with Walken, Nivola, and Cole.
    • Dean Cain (4:00): Cain discusses his character, working with Walken, and working in an ensemble.
    • Peter Coyote (4:50): Coyote discusses his character by comparing him to Hitler and working with director Cole and actors Walken and Nivola.
    • Amanda Peet (2:04): Peet discusses working with director Nigel Cole and actors Nivola and Walken.

    Still Galleries: A collection of promotional and production stills from the film, in high definition.

    Trailer (2:03): The film’s trailer is presented in standard definition.


    Sweet N Low $0.35 Coupon: As a promotional tie-in with the home video release, a coupon has been included as part of the case insert.


    Overall: 2.5 out of 5
    Even die-hard Christopher Walken fans would be wise to give this a rental first before going for the blind buy on this direct-to-video release.


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