BOUNDARIES — Review by Susan Granger

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Although 88 year-old Christopher Plummer oozes charm as a manipulative con man with a twinkle in his eye, Shana Feste’s estranged father/daughter road trip treads a well-worn path toward redemption. It begins in Seattle with neurotic Laura Jaconi (Vera Farmiga) assuring her psychotherapist that she’s created definite boundaries and will not answer phone calls from her father Jack (Plummer) since, according to her tale of woe, he’s been an unreliable disappointment all her life. Continue reading…

Besides, as a single mother, she has to deal with her troubled teenage son, Henry (Lewis MacDougall), who has been expelled from public school because he draws explicit caricatures of naked people, like his teacher and principal.

Plus, there’s her wealthy, demanding employer/friend, Sofia (Dolly Wells), who is planning an elaborate birthday party for her spoiled daughter.

Last-but-not-least, there’s neglected Laura’s obvious inability to bypass a stray dog or cat. Her home is, literally, filled with rescue animals.

Predictably, it’s only a short time before Laura agrees to drive Jack, who has been evicted from his retirement home for growing cannabis, to Los Angeles in his vintage Rolls-Royce so he can stay with her sister JoJo (Kristen Schaal).

Besides, he’s promised to give Laura enough tuition money so Henry can go to a private school.

But their supposedly direct route down the Pacific Coast gets sidetracked as incorrigible Jack makes stops along the way, ostensibly visiting buddies (Christopher Lloyd, Peter Fonda) and Henry’s deadbeat dad (Bobby Cannavale), selling bags of home-grown marijuana that he’s stowed in the trunk, hidden in his adult diapers.

Writer/director Sharon Feste admittedly drew on the misadventures of her own pot-dealing, card-sharp dad, who does a cameo in one scene, buying weed from Plummer. Unfortunately, cinematographer Sara Mishara’s scenes are so darkly lit that it’s a major distraction for the audience.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Boundaries” is a frustrating 5, filled with implausible family-therapy.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.