- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
- Region: A
- Rating: PG-13
- Discs: 1
- Studio: Image Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: August 24, 2010
- List Price: $29.98
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Director Nigel Cole and writers Neal and Tippi Dobrofsky bring us this prototypical road movie about an estranged father and son reconnecting on a trip across the country. Filled with a star-studded cast who play their mostly cameo roles brilliantly, especially Sharon Stone, $5 a Day may not be wholly original or even consistently funny, but its lighthearted fare and solid direction by Cole make it well worth watching.
Flynn (Alessandro Nivola), a health inspector, is having a really bad day. He’s just lost his job because his boss found out about him doing eleven months in jail two years earlier, a fact he left out on his job application, and his girlfriend (Amanda Peet) is dumping him and moving out. To make matters worse, his estranged, con-artist father, Nat (Christopher Walken), has contacted him. Flynn gives in goes to see is father. Nat tells him he’s dying from a brain tumor and needs help driving across the country to New Mexico to go get an experimental treatment.
So Flynn and Nat hit the road in a car painted with the Sweet ‘N Low logo that Nat won during one of his various scams. He’s a grifter through and through. He’s developed a philosophy to life that requires him to spend no more than $5 a day of his own money. He runs cons, has multiple aliases, different telephones to call into radio contests. The road trip in $5 a Day mostly serves as a vehicle for Nat’s various scams, like little vignettes throughout the course of the film. Nat sleeps in a house that’s up for sale, or Nat orders breakfast and charges it to someone’s hotel room.
$5 a Day offers a typically strong performance from Christopher Walken, but a brief appearance later in the film by Sharon Stone as an old acquaintance and babysitter to Flynn steals the film.
While the 1.85:1 AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encoding of $5 a Day looks very film-like with a very thick layer of grain, that grain is a little inconsistent and sometimes verges on looking a bit like video noise. Color reproduction is strong, with natural flesh tones and good saturation that really stands out.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack has a full sound with good low-end extension, clean dialogue and a spacious spread across the front three channels. The surround channels are used mostly for ambient effects that are mixed loud enough to avoid the entire mix sounding too dry.
There is a nice set of interview segments with the film’s stars, although there is nothing particularly revelatory about them. There are also hi-res production stills provided on the disc, but purchasers with a sweet tooth might also appreciate the included 35¢ coupon for Sweet ‘N Low (expires 8/31/12).
The supplements provided with this release are:
- Director Nigel Cole (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:10.34)
- Alessandro Nivola (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:07.00)
- Sharon Stone (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:06.38)
- Dean Cain (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:04.00)
- Peter Coyote (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:04.50)
- Amanda Peet (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:02.04)
- Still Galleries:
- Photo Gallery (Images by Michael Parmelee) (1080p)
- Production Stills (1080p)
- Cast and Crew (1080p)
- Trailer (1.85:1; 480i/60)
- Sweet ‘n Low Coupon
The Definitive Word
As far as road trip comedies go, $5 a Day doesn’t really break any new ground. It is pretty much a typical film, but it has a quiet charm and avoids the gross out comedy and in-your-face slapstick of most comedies its ilk these days, which makes it stand out. The Blu-ray from Image looks adequately film-like in high definition with a decent sounding mix that makes this well worth renting or purchasing.
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