Laura (Vera Farmiga) is a near out of control single mom trying to keep her complicated life in order. She gets a call out of the blue from her father, Jack (Christopher Plummer), who she hoped to get the cash to pay for her son Henry’s (Lewis McDougall) special education. Instead, he is homeless and needs his daughter’s help with something not exactly legal in “Boundaries.”
Laura's Review: C
After constantly ignoring calls from her estranged father Jack (Christopher Plummer) as she deals with a lover disgruntled with her house full of stray dogs and her odd son Henry (Lewis MacDougall, "A Monster Calls") being expelled from school, Laura Jaconi (Vera Farmiga) finally calls him back. Jack's being expelled too, from his senior living arrangement, and his refusal to give up his gold Rolls Royce means family time as they drive down the coast to leave him with his younger daughter JoJo (Kristen Schaal) in "Boundaries." Sony Picture Classics, a distributor who usually picks winners, releases its second road movie to waste a good cast this year with "Boundaries." While not as sorry as "The Leisure Seeker," "Boundaries" is likely to get more attention from supporting player Peter Fonda's tweet reported to White House Secret Service than from audiences. "Country Strong" writer/director Shana Feste has already evinced a penchant for tired genre cliches propped up by starry casts and her latest is no exception. Laura's the type of woman who blames everything in her life on a lack of love from her father. She works for a rich friend, Sofia (Dolly Wells), who she clearly can no longer abide. Her ne'er-do-well husband left her and her son creates explicit drawings of everyone, including mom, in the nude. Laura compensates by adopting every stray animal that crosses her path. Needing money to send Henry to a private school, Laura strikes a deal with dad. But unbeknownst to her, Jack lost his home because of his business growing and selling weed and he plans to sell it off, with Henry as his accomplice, during the trip to raise the funds. Along the way from Seattle to L.A., the manipulative charmer engineers reasons to stop along the way, visiting old hippie friends like Stanley (Christopher Lloyd) and Joey (Peter Fonda), even using Henry as an excuse to stop and see the ex, Henry's dad Leonard (Bobby Cannavale). It's enjoyable watching Plummer twinkle as the crafty pot purveyor and he and MacDougall play together well, silently conspiring, but Laura is such a ditzy mess Farmiga seems to be slumming. The actress does little to gain our sympathies for the character, at least until she finds her mettle taking on cartel members. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II also charms as the smitten coworker, Serge, who cares for (most of) Laura's menagerie during her absence. Schaal is typecast as the quirky and equally unaccomplished, if far happier, JoJo. When all else fails, there are all those adorable mutts on hand. It's easy enough to figure out just where Jack will end up. More problematic is that there never really seems to be any real reason for the Jaconi estrangement to begin with, let alone Henry's acting out. "Boundaries" had nowhere to go from its onset. Grade:
Robin's Review: C+
Writer-director Shana Feste, with her talented cast of characters, creates a story about midlife crisis, coping with an aging parent and raising a teen son as a single mom. The mother, though, is in scant control of her life as the executive assistant to a demanding patron who wants things like procuring a rare Siberian tiger for her daughter’s sweet sixteen party. Then, Laura talks to her dad and, out of the blue, she has to find a place to put Jack. She decides on her hippie sister, Jojo (Kristen Schall), who lives way down south in LA. Laura just wants to be rid of her wayward dad and move on with her life. Then, he drops the my-life-is-near-the-end bomb. Now, instead of putting him on a plane and being done with him, Jack tells her that she must drive him the hundreds of miles to Jojo. The ensuing road trip, with Laura, Jack and Henry, begins, but is soon interrupted by Jack’s own plans. What follows are a series of stops where Jack, and new partner Henry, does business selling pot (a lot of pot) to his old friends, including a Buddhist monk and Jack’s good buddy, Stanley (Christopher Lloyd), a true free spirit, who, with Plummer, represent the funny old guys being naughty. The quirky characters and the road trip that Laura and her family take are likable enough but the story has been done before - the estranged family must face a daunting task and, in the end, bond once again.