Although the film was nominated for one Golden Globe nomination for Richard Crenna, but the best performance in the film was not nominated. I should quickly say that Richard Crenna is fine in his role being both appropriately slick with just the right amount of slime as well hidden by a certain charm. Crenna makes the way Dillon's character becomes fascinated by the man, is made believable by Crenna. The best performance though comes as really the rival of Crenna's character is Elizondo as Jeffrey's father who does not like the path his son is taking.
Hector Elizondo plays the role of Arthur Willis in a very down to earth, and decidedly flamboyant fashion that is rather different from Richard Crenna's performance. Elizondo plays Arthur as very much an honest joe, who works hard and wants the best for his son. In his first scene Elizondo is very good in naturally showing a fatherly camaraderie with his son as they playfully talk to one another. He and Dillon are very good in this scene because they establish properly the good relationship the two have with one another that feel very genuine due to the performances.
The father's role is very much a reality to Jeffrey who tries to convince Jeffrey that the way of life taken by the car salesman is not as good as it looks. Elizondo is extremely good in all of the scenes where Arthur tries to convince his son not to abandon everything that he seemed to value before getting his new job. Elizondo is excellent because he does not show Arthur to be angry with his son over these decisions but instead actually disappointed with him. Elizondo portrays that this disappointment does not stem from Jeffrey not doing what he wants, but rather than he loves his son and wants what is the very best for him.
Even as Jeffrey continues down the wrong path failing to heed his father's warning Elizondo is steadfast in his portrayal that he very much does love son, and that is where the disappointment comes from. Elizondo is very moving as he shows Arthur's sadness slowly grow as he continues to see his son accept values that he knows will not be good for him. Elizondo is very quiet, but terrific in portraying the way his concerns do create a strong understated passion in him. He is particularly strong in his scene where he confronts Crenna, the two are excellent in this scene together as Elizondo plays an upfront quality that plays off well against all of Crenna's slick talking.
This is a very good performance by Hector Elizondo as he stays as the firm presence of good really as he tries to convince his son to do the right thing. He creates his character honestly making every one of his scenes is very moving without every seeming sappy. His final scene is especially effective as he finally reconnects with his son after his son has learned his lesson. The way the two play the scene is marvelously because they both reaffirm the love the son and the father share with on another, yet they do it in a blunt fashion that ends really working due to both Elizondo and Dillon. Elizondo's work is not nearly as showy as Crenna's work, but Elizondo effortlessly makes his character the heart of the movie.