AT ANY PRICE: THE REVIEW

This film had been in my spotlight for quite a while. It stars my numero hottie, Zac Efron (give me a moment – ok better now), and my favourite old school actor who is just pure comfort on screen, Dennis Quaid. I love them both and to have them as father and son in a film was like a big block of chocolate for me – it was going to be awesome. It had car racing, and Zac in a racer’s uniform, it had farming, it even had some Heather Graham. But it missed the cinema and went straight to DVD and I got to suss it and was just distraught at the mediocrity of the script and the mess this film ended up being.

 

Heather Graham, Clancy Brown, Chelcie Ross, Maika Monroe, Red West, Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron, Kim Dickens, At Any Price, At Any Price Review, Ramin Bahrani, Hallie Elizabeth Newton
At Any Price Review – Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron – Movie Poster

 

The real and only problem with this film is the script. It is a mess, it is trying to be this epic story but comes off as a jumble of three films in one, it ends up being convoluted with a messed up plot that cannot decide what it is doing. One story is the big business farming story, Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid) is a generational farmer, he wants one of his sons to take over the farm. The eldest son, easily Whipple’s favourite and chosen successor, leaves at the start to go travelling, we discover he really wants to keep travelling. This then leads Whipple to pressure his younger son Dean (Efron) to pursue the family business. So this part of the story concentrates on the business side of things, the corruption, the cut throat way to keep these struggling farms going and can be quite interesting.

But then we have a car racing film, Dean (future BF Zac) wants to race cars and he is damn good at it. He has no interest in the farming, he wants out of farming solitude, he wants to race fast cars, root hot chicks and drink alcohol while partying. He gets his big chance, he blows it and like what the??? He just gives in. Boom, a quitter. Then he turns into a sulky whiner who hates the world.

Then we have the namesake of the film, the third tragic act that actually gives the film some backbone, something I will not divulge. But something dastardly occurs that allows Henry to get what he wants in life “at any price”. Let’s also throw in the soap operatic relationships and affairs.

 

Heather Graham, Clancy Brown, Chelcie Ross, Maika Monroe, Red West, Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron, Kim Dickens, At Any Price, At Any Price Review, Ramin Bahrani, Hallie Elizabeth Newton
At Any Price Review – Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron

 

This film would have been perfect as a TV mini series, something that could have been drawn out and allowed the individual parts of the film to gain body and allowed for characters to develop and for us the chance to like them more and understand their motivations. It was quite “Hallmark” like and a three part mini-series would have been brilliant – perfect Sunday matinee fodder.

The acting is surprisingly good. I have always like Kim Dickens (Irene Whipple), this woman is an enigma and so versatile as an actress. She can play hardcore or she can play homely. She is the homely farm wife in this but at the same time is the head woman in the brothel on Sons of Anarchy and has popped up in so many roles over the years, the perfect backing woman to keep a film steady. Zac is charming and great onscreen as always, it is great to see him break away from teenage musicals and become a man. I have absolutely no idea what the purpose of Heather Graham being in this film was, it was quite stupid, ok, she is the mistress “whore” but anybody could have done it and she can’t be struggling that much for jobs, or could she? My biggest gripe about the acting, my fave old dude, Dennis Quaid, he so overplayed this part it bordered on ridiculous. I know it was showing the insecurity of the character and the stress on his shoulders and the salesman in Henry, but it was bad used-car salesman and was too OTT. You let me down QMan. And seriously, what was the point of his character having an affair? It just had none, whatsoever. 

 

Heather Graham, Clancy Brown, Chelcie Ross, Maika Monroe, Red West, Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron, Kim Dickens, At Any Price, At Any Price Review, Ramin Bahrani, Hallie Elizabeth Newton
At Any Price Review – Dennis Quaid, Kim Dickens and Zac Efron

 

I will say the film picked up some pace and grew a pair in the last third, but it falls flat on so many levels getting to that point. If the film had cut some of the unnecessary story to give the audience more to focus on it could have been great, a simple script overhaul could have sorted this all out. Director Ramin Bahrani was a little bit over ambitious with this and failed to see where improvements were necessary, probably overwhelmed at the cast put before him. It did not help he also co-write the script and probably was in denial at the required improvements. Sad really.

Surprisingly though, this was the last film that Roger Ebert gave a perfect score to. Odd. The film is actually out now on DVD and Blu Ray everywhere, it is not appalling but could be much better. It is rated M and runs for 105mins.

 

2 and a Half Pops

 

 

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