I have a new leader for Worst Movie Of 2018: “Boundaries.” It’s too bad, because it has a good cast wasted on a horrible script.
Vera Farmiga plays a woman who has trouble saying no. Whenever she sees a stray dog or cat, she takes it in. That’s certainly compassionate, but there’s a limit — if Paula Poundstone would tell you there are too many animals living in your house, then you have issues. I usually like Farmiga, but in “Boundaries,” writer/director Shana Feste seems to have wanted Kristen Wiig for the role, because she has Farmiga acting and looking just like her.
The antagonist in the plot is Farmiga’s father, Christoper Plummer, who is being kicked out of a senior citizen residence and has nowhere to go. Farmiga, who’s been estranged from him for years, won’t take Plummer in, but her sister (Kristen Schaal, typecast as a kooky free spirit) will, but only if Farmiga will drive him from Portland down to Los Angeles, where she lives. It’s at this point that I rolled my eyes at the thought of yet another middle-aged-person-on-a-road-trip-with-grouchy-elderly-parent movie.
In this genre, you have the bad (“Grandma,” with Lily Tomlin and Julia Garner), the good (“Nebraska,” with Will Forte and Bruce Dern), and the great (“Little Miss Sunshine,” with Greg Kinnear and Alan Arkin, who’s been kicked out of his retirement home for similar reasons as Plummer). “Boundaries” does not fit in the quality end of that group.
The subplot driving all of this is that Plummer is actually a weed dealer with a large stash he has to deliver to his customers, so they have to make lots of stops along the way, including at Peter Fonda’s house in Sausalito. I’ve known a few weed dealers in my life, but none of them would travel a thousand miles to make a delivery — it’s a local business, after all. There’s also a stop at Christopher Lloyd’s house, where he and Plummer compete to see which actor can play the exact same character in more movies than the other.
Also along for the road trip is Farmiga’s son, Henry, who has conveniently been expelled from a private school for a drawing nude pictures of his teachers and others. The drawings are actually pretty good, but no one cares about the art, only about the nudity.
As characters like hers always must, Farmiga doesn’t want to embark on a road trip with her father, but she relents because that’s what she does. Every time she says no, we are not doing that, she ends up doing exactly that. She refuses to make the trip, then does. She refuses to take his car, then does. She refuses to take a side trip to drop in on her ex-husband (Bobby Canavale), but does. And on and on. You see, she has no boundaries.
Do yourself a favor and put a mental boundary around this movie and never cross it. I give “Boundaries” a 1 out of 10.
One last note: a friend who was at the screening with me said afterwards that when people complain the big blockbuster franchises are killing cinema, they’re wrong. It is movies like this that waste time, money, and talent, knocking the legs out from under efforts to make more good indie films.