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"At Any Price" (2013 release; 105 min.) brings the story of Henry (played by Dennis Quaid) and his farm family in Iowa. Henry owns a big farm and sells genetically-modified seeds, and is struggling to keep this 4th generation farm going. His oldest son Grant has left the family for adventures abroad (mountain climbing in Argentina) and his youngest son Dean (played by Zac Efron) is a dirt track racer dreaming to break into the big times (ARCA, then NASCAR). Henry is losing customers to a rival, but is unexpectedly getting some help from Dean's girlfriend Cadence (played by Maika Monroe). Henry also has a girlfriend on the side, Meredith (played by Heather Graham), who in turn has her eyes on Dean. Then one day, Henry gets investigated by Liberty, the company from which Henry gets his seeds, for possibly cleaning/re-using the seeds for more than one crop. To tell you more of this plot-heavy movie would surely ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Several comments: first, the plot at times seens contrived, almost soap-like, but somehow it all works out well as the movie progresses. Of more interest are the performances. Zac Efron continues to try and evolve away from his early Disney days, building on his most recent role in "The Paperboy" (where ho co-starred with Nicole Kidman). I am a huge fan of Heather Graham, but she is under-used, and type-cast, as the sexy siren. Dennis Quaid gets the better of the deal as he gets to show his chops as the tormented and frustrated farmer/dad/lover. But the breakout role is from Maika Monroe, a new-comer for me, as the girlfriend of Dean, I am looking forward to seeing her in future roles! Bottom line: this is an entertaining family farm drama, warts and all. As a complete aside, there was a recent Supreme Court case on this very issue of farmers re-using genetically modified seeds for a second or third crop without paying the seeds manufacturers (the farmer lost the case).

This movie showed up unannounced in the art-house theatre here in Cincinnati on a single screen and when I went to see it this weekend, I got a private showing, literally, as I was the only person in the theatre. I figure this won't play long here, but glad I saw it. If you have a chance to see "At Any Price", be it in the theatre or on DVD, go for it!
0Comment|16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
A rebellious, tough teenager played by Efron, would prefer to race cars anytime, rather than being responsible enough to take over the family farming business. However, his father, played by Dennis Quaid, has an entirely different opinion as he worries about the weak economy and changing farming climate. Acting Performance was good, and the story grabs your attention, with a thought-provoking ending. The theme of this movie is based on the economic crisis, and how it affects the American dream. The story also reflects that business comes before pleasure, especially in today's world. The drama becomes intense with an impressive ending, which makes you think about how serious the economic crisis can be in our lives. This movie makes you think about what happened to the land of opportunity, a once promised land, and the cost of the American dream. Engaging, moving, entertaining. Highly recommended!
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on October 28, 2013
My wife and I are from the midwest and it made farmers out to be crooked with no morals which is farthest from the truth. Found the movie not very much in line with reality and very depressing. Not one that I would watch again.
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on December 14, 2014
I am a farmer and I found this movie to be so/so. It was sort of funny to hear them trying to use "farm language". I thought they made Quaid's role a little goofier than needed. Also disappointed in how it ended - dumped in a well and search dogs were used and no questioning/wonder about the Whipples??
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on October 20, 2013
No real chemistry between characters - Quaid's slick salesman approach was one-dimensional. Zac Efron's character found it WAY too easy to kill his nemesis; his doing so was far out of the context of the character we were led to believe he was. I would not recommend it.
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on January 27, 2014
I think a lot of people had different expectations for this movie than what the director was ultimately trying to deliver. It's not a fun romp with cute Zac Efron racing cars and clashing with dear old dad Dennis Quaid. It's a fairly dark look at the decline of the American family farm, the rise of agriculture as a cut-throat business ruled by big corporations and genetically modified seeds, and what this does to a family still trying to make a living in the heartland. None of the characters are really likeable, outside Maika Monroe as Dean's girlfriend and maybe Kim Dickins as the put-upon wife. Though (except Heather Graham, who's a non-entity playing exactly the part you expect Heather Graham to be playing), all the performances are very good. The ending is intentionally open-ended and lacking in resolution and I'm not convinced it overall worked for me, but it at least left me thinking.

This is a small indie movie that I'd recommend it if you're a fan of Ramin Bahrani's other work. It was never meant to be a huge audience crowd-pleaser like you might expect given the stars top-lining it, but it's a fine little film for what it is.
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on June 13, 2014
I agree with the majority of reviewers about this movie. It WAS AWFUL! The trailers didn't give much sense of what this movie was about. I got that it was about farming and race car driving, but beyond that I had no idea what the movie wanted to convey. And after watching it, I still have no idea. Dennis Quad's character came across greedy and self-serving. Zac Efron's character was hot headed and nothing was done to make the audience have any sympathy for either character. Nothing improves your opinion of them given Dean just walks away from racing because he loses his first major race. Dennis Quad only attempts to make nice with the other characters after he's threatened with legal trouble, that he caused, and the possibility of losing his land. I rented this movie at a bargain price and still didn't feel like I'd gotten money's worth.
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on September 27, 2013
I was expecting a movie where Zac Efron had to save his family's farm. That is what the preview seemed to me to be portraying. The film however keeps you guessing the entire time and leads you to hate almost every single one of the characters. While it is true that terrible things happen in the world, and that a lot of people do not get the happy endings they deserve, there are better movies to watch that tell about these woes that are more correct/realistic and life changing and helpful to the cause of empowering people and changing people. This film does a terrible job. It is a mash of ugly that leaves you with a headache.
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on September 16, 2013
Run as far as you can from this terrible movie! Not only is the acting by Dennis Quaid one of his worst performances, but the story is severely lacking in all areas! The writers decided to throw everything and the kitchen sink into this one. Farming, sex, adultery, murder, car racing, mountain climbing, guns, robbery, alcohol, suicide, F-bombs, kidnapping/missing person, death, fist fighting.......

Spoilers: I have been around farmers my whole life and they certainly do not behave they way this movie portrays them. Yes, they do sit in air conditioned, GPS guided equipment. No, they do not commit murder in corn fields and toss the body into their well (water is precious you know). Yes, GMO seeds are highly regulated and watched by seed goons who WILL come after you. No, farmers are not going to have an adulterous affair out in the middle of the day in public. No gun blasted robbery would go unnoticed and never investigated (sort of like the murder above). Sex in a corn silo is unsafe and should probably not be attempted (with protection or otherwise). Yes, seed cleaners have all been put out of business. No, farmers do not drive around in gold Chevy Impalas!

For such a "star studded" cast, this movie falls short by miles. It is slow, boring, long, drawn out, and just plain not entertaining. There is no back story to any of it. Why is the oldest son leaving the farm to go climb Mt Everest or whatever mountain it is he climbs? Why does the other son freak out while racing? It's his life dream and he's good at it. He has never shown fear, winning every race he has ever been in, never letting anyone get the best of him, until major race day and he chokes? Who is this woman we see Dennis Quaid having sex with? Where did she come from? What is her back story? Why is she even relevant to the story? Why does she then have sex with his son? How does a car load of kids take a 9mm, shoot a store window out, setting off an alarm in the process, steal an engine part, hooting and hollering the entire time, speed off noisily, and never see a police car ever? Why does a missing person/murder never get investigated?

I could go on and on about the inaccuracies and absurdities of this movie, but I will just leave you with this warning: it's not a good movie plain and simple.
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on September 15, 2013
Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid) has it all, a loving family, a successful business, and a mistress (Heather Graham). He is an aggressive seed salesman and farmer. His oldest son would rather travel the world and his younger son Dean (Zac Efron) is cynical and doesn't want to be around his father. He wants to race cars and have a good time with his "feral" girlfriend (Maika Monroe).

Henry doesn't always abide by the rules. Dean has anger management issues. Things come to a head as Henry has to choose to make things right or face dire consequences.

The film is an okay drama, that perhaps plays out better in Iowa. The characters nicely evolved in the film, although they didn't grab me. Might make for a drama rental at a low price.

Parental Guidance: F-bomb, sex, porno magazine nudity of a topless woman with a male organ at her mouth. Must be the strong graphic reference mentioned on rating.
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