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With: Vera Farmiga, Christopher Plummer, Lewis MacDougall, Christopher Lloyd, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Kristen Schaal, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Fonda, Dolly Wells
Written by: Shana Feste
Directed by: Shana Feste
MPAA Rating: R for drug material, language, some sexual references and nude sketches
Running Time: 104
Date: 06/22/2018

Boundaries (2018)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Going to Pot

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though blessed with outstanding performers, this indie/dramedy road movie never really sparks to life; it's a little too aware of its plot and character components and merely comes off as mechanical.

In Boundaries, single mom Laura Jaconi (Vera Farmiga) is in therapy, learning to set boundaries. She loves to adopt stray animals and is having trouble with her sensitive teen son Henry (Lewis MacDougall); he likes to draw naked pictures of people and has been expelled. Though she has been avoiding calls from her rapscallion, 85 year-old father, Jack (Christopher Plummer), she reluctantly decides to ask him for money for a private school.

Unfortunately, she discovers that he has been kicked out of his nursing home for dealing pot. While trying to figure out what to do next, Jack secretly enlists Henry for a plan; they must get Laura to drive them from Portland to Los Angeles, to the home of Laura's sister JoJo (Kristen Schaal), where Jack will live. While on the road, Jack will sell the rest of his stash and raise $200,000. But spending all that time together will test this family in ways they never expected.

Written and directed by Shana Feste (Country Strong, Endless Love), Boundaries frankly has too many boundaries, too much material that seems cobbled together from other screenplays, or learned in screenwriting class, and too little room to breathe. Even more distressing, it's the lead female character that comes across as high-strung, screechy, irreversibly damaged. She's not much fun, and not very appealing.

The male characters are the ones who get to have fun and be silly, however, they are both defined, simply, by a single character trait: Jack by his pot-dealing and Henry by his drawings of naked people. These traits are meant to be humorously shocking, but the muted tone of the movie — it's trying to be a touching drama as well as a comedy — dampens all the laughs.

Fortunately, the cheerful, squeaky-voiced goofball Schaal elevates the movie in her few scenes, however. She's the only character that seems to have any kind of humorous self-conflict; she's unflappably happy despite her cramped living conditions. It's too bad the rest of Boundaries couldn't have cut loose a bit.

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