Boundaries (R)

Comedy 110 min. July 6, 2018
By April Wolfe
Writer/director Shana Feste's family comic drama Boundaries shows an adult woman reluctant to let her vagabond dad back into her life -- for good reason. At the same time, it's disconcerting that, in the end, Feste attempts to tie a nice, neat bow around a troubled family reunification, even to the point of slighting her female protagonist. Vera Farmiga plays Laura Jaconi, a frazzled single mom to Henry (Lewis MacDougall), a teen with a penchant for sketching unflattering nude caricatures of the adults around him. Laura's got some very clear issues, in that she keeps impulsively taking in lost or hurt animals against her therapist's advice. She attempts to nurse them back to health the same as she had done in the past for her broken dad Jack (Christopher Plummer), a pot-dealing octogenarian known to love 'em and leave 'em. She has vowed not to help him anymore, but the charming Jack convinces Laura to do one last favor: drive him, with all of his possessions, down to Los Angeles, where he'll move in with Laura's sister JoJo's (Kristen Schaal).

Neither dad nor daughter are perfect, but somehow Laura is presented as the less sympathetic of the two, with Jack always getting the upper hand and Laura being the buzzkill. When Laura finds pounds of weed he's hidden in the trunk of her car, it's she who's arrested (for parking tickets), while Jack gets to poke fun at her for being a criminal. Where Feste best succeeds in Boundaries isn't in the father-daughter relationship, which finds her straining for a tight resolution, but in the mother-son one, where the two actors vibe easily and persuasively off one another.
Shana Feste Vera Farmiga, Bobby Cannavale, Christopher Plummer, Kristen Schaal, Christopher Lloyd Shana Feste Sony Pictures Classics

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