Because of all the right-wing nutjobs out there smearing this film due to some — shall we say, impolitic comments made by star Pete Fonda — I’m tempted to give this film a good review. Unfortunately, I cannot. Boundaries is not a good movie.
Boundaries tells the story of Laura (Vera Farmiga) driving her father Jack (Christopher Plummer) to her sister’s house in Los Angeles after Jack gets kicked out of his nursing home. Jack is a worthless, scumbag grifter. He was such a terrible father he emotionally crippled his two children, Laura and her sister JoJo (30 Rock’s Kristen Schaal). Before this trip, we meet Laura’s employer, a rather unpleasant rich woman named Sofia, and Laura’s son Henry, who’s having a great deal of trouble at school, and who needs to attend a private school more suited to his emotional needs. A school Laura cannot afford. Laura also has a habit of picking up stray animals that have special needs. In short, Laura has a house filled with special needs children and animals, all being supported by her job as an executive assistant, which doesn’t pay well.
During the road trip, Jack deals marijuana to young and old alike, while lying and manipulating Laura into taking side trips she doesn’t want to. Side-trips which elongate the journey, putting her job at risk. A low paying job that she needs to take care of Henry and all those animals.
Have I mentioned that Boundaries is a comedy?
Normally I wouldn’t give such a detailed plot synopsis, but it’s important to understand what’s going on in this movie and why it fails. Boundaries does a great job at getting us to sympathize with Laura. We want to see her get a better job, get Henry to a new school, and we really want to see her be able to help all those animals. In short, I liked Laura and want to see her succeed.
I didn’t like Jack. Jack is a garbage person that lies, cheats, and puts his daughter in both financial and physical jeopardy. But he’s a wacky elderly pot dealer, so we’re supposed to like him. There was not one moment in this film where I enjoyed spending any time with Jack, or the people he sells marijuana too, including Laura’s ex-husband, who, spoiler alert, is also a manipulative piece of trash.
Seriously, this movie is supposed to be a comedy.
I guess it was writer/director Shana Feste’s intention that we like Jack because he’s ostensibly selling drugs to help Laura. But because Jack targets all his unpleasant machinations at Laura, a character we do like, I found it impossible to like Jack. In fact, I wanted horrible to happen to Jack, just so he gets his comeuppance.
There’s a real big problem at the end of the movie. Stop reading unless you want spoilers. At the end of Boundaries, Jack moves in with Laura, and it’s implied that he’s going to help handle Henry. So Laura is now responsible for her son, her father, and lots of special needs animals. She has no job, having quit it in a fit misplaced self-actualization. Laura is now relying on her father and there is no evidence that he has changed one iota. It’s very likely that he’ll take off again and leave her in a lurch, since that’s all he’s done his entire life. She’s arguably in a worse position than when the movie started.
Again, this is supposed to be a heartwarming family comedy.
Anyway, unless I completely misread this movie, and Boundaries is a metaphor for how the Baby Boom generation is completely screwing over everyone else before they collectively shuffle loose this mortal coil, I cannot recommend sitting through this film.
The Plot Thus Far
Laura and her son Henry are forced to drive her estranged, pot-dealing, carefree father Jack across country after being kicked out of a nursing home.