A bizarre refugee from the peak-quirk era of Napoleon Dynamite and Garden State that struggles to fit into contemporary cinema, Boundaries tries so damn hard to be goofy.
The constant, suffocating effort produces multiple laugh out loud moments that keep one hoping for an eventual comedic groove, but far more groans as its gifted stars wallow in material that’s in dire need of revisions
Written and directed by Shana Feste, a curious pivot after the abysmal Endless Love remake and the Gwyneth Paltrow music drama Country Strong, the film centers on single mom Laura (Vera Farmiga), who inexplicably takes in practically every stray dog and cat that crosses her path, and her socially-inept son Henry (Lewis MacDougall, A Monster Calls).
After keeping the titular distance from her rabble-rousing father Jack (Christopher Plummer), his latest nursing home eviction and a Royal Tenenbaum-esque claim of a terminal illness prompts Laura to drive him on a literal guilt trip from Seattle to Los Angeles so that he can live with his other daughter, JoJo (Kristen Schaal).
Mandatory wackiness ensues on the road, starting with the would-be edgy revelation of Jack’s true career and continuing through “zany” visits with his friends played by Christopher Lloyd and Peter Fonda.
A stop to see Laura’s ex-husband Leonard (Bobby Cannavale) in Sausalito adds little beyond the city’s architectural and natural beauty, while the evolution of the family’s attitude toward Jack is unconvincing and, like much of the attempted comedy, feels forced and unnatural.
Grade: C. Rated R. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)