In "Kodachrome," Ed Harris and Jason Sudeikis play an estranged father and son who take a road trip that becomes an emotional roller-coaster ride.
I liked "Kodachrome." I also liked "Nebraska," with Bruce Dern and Will Forte as an estranged father and son who take a road trip that becomes an emotional roller-coaster ride.
Unlike "Kodachrome" and "Nebraska," the road-trip movie "Boundaries" does not feature a former "Saturday Night Live" cast member as the adult child, but it follows the same basic formula: a 40ish offspring, still dealing with rejection issues, has to spend a considerable amount of time with rapidly aging and possibly dying pops, who is more irascible and distant than ever.
Might there be a chance for a breakthrough and a thaw in the relationship before it's too late?
Despite the excellent performances from Christopher Plummer and Vera Farmiga as the obligatory estranged oldster-adult offspring pairing, and some genuinely impactful dramatic developments, "Boundaries" is a bit too cute and clever for its own good.
And the ending is pure hokum.
The always likable Farmiga plays Laura, a struggling single mother in Seattle whose household is overrun by stray cats and dogs — because Laura is so fantastic she could never turn away a lost soul. That point is hammered home when some random dude spends the night at Laura's and is horrified by all the creatures roaming around in her house.
Laura's son, Henry (Lewis MacDougall), is a sensitive, artistic, misunderstood soul who likes to draw pictures of Laura's boyfriends, naked.
Oh, and Laura works as a personal assistant for a wealthy and horrible person who treats Laura like trash and wants Laura to produce a white tiger for her daughter's Sweet Sixteen birthday party. AND her younger sister, JoJo (Kristen Schaal), is a wacky dog-walker who has yet to discover HER purpose in life.
Have we stacked the cards in Laura's favor enough?
So, there's your setup. Laura is a cool, animal-loving hippie chick mom, Henry is a smart and quirky outcast kid, JoJo is a lost soul, and just when things couldn't get any more complicated, Laura gets a call from the assisted living facility that will no longer tolerate the hijinks of Laura's eccentric and impossible and long-estranged father, Jack (Christopher Plummer). She needs to pick him up, stat.
Turns out Jack is a serious dealer of weed. As in pot. As in marijuana. (Not that Laura realizes this.)
Jack cuts a deal with Laura. If she'll drive him to a certain destination, at the end of the trip he'll put up the cash for her son Henry to attend a private school that's much better suited to Henry's unique needs. (Again: Laura has no idea her dad intends to sell felony-level amounts of pot every step of the way. For someone so smart and savvy, she's truly oblivious when it comes to pops.)
Along the way they encounter Laura's ex-husband (Bobby Cannavale), a true jerk who has had zero contact with Henry through the years but somehow still has a spell on Laura, and a couple of old-time stoners played by Christopher Lloyd and Peter Fonda. (The detour to the Fonda character's house includes a bizarre robbery subplot that has nothing to do with anything and seriously tries our patience.)
"Boundaries" veers from forced irreverence to cliched. (Can we put a moratorium on scenes of grown-up sisters or best friends performing a dance-and-lip-sync routine to a beloved pop hit from their junior high days?)
Plummer and Farmiga are great together. If only they'd been given material to suit their skills.