Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Boundaries Movie Poster Image
Indie road-trip dramedy has pot dealing/smoking.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Characters show kindness and compassion, but that's not the main point; there's also a lot of lying and deception. Advocates selling and using pot.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main characters are all misfits who deal with life in ways that could be described as not exactly healthy or above-board. Yet they all seem to learn to get along better and compromise with one another, and broken relationships are mended. Kindness and compassion shown to a developmentally disabled character.


Man punches another man. Jokes/references about child molestation. A woman claims to have been slapped by a teen boy; she holds an ice pack to her face. Comical attempt at a robbery by teens.


Sketches on paper show graphic drawings of women and full-frontal male nudity. Sexual references. It's suggested that a man is naked, but nothing sensitive shown. A couple cuddles in bed after presumably having sex (it's later revealed that one of them is married).


Very strong language, with several uses of "f--k" or "f---ing," plus "motherf----r," "s--t," "c--k," "bitch," "son of a bitch," "damn," "piss," "douche," "goddamn," and "for Christ's sake," and "Jesus," "Jesus Christ" as exclamations.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main character is a drug dealer (pot). Several scenes of characters smoking pot.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Boundaries is an indie road-trip dramedy about a single mom (Vera Farmiga), her teen son (Lewis MacDougall), and her 85-year-old pot-dealing father (Christopher Plummer). Expect to see lots of marijuana on screen, with some scenes of adults smoking it. Language is very strong, with several uses of "f--k," plus "s--t" and other words. A teen boy draws graphic naked pictures of men and a suggestive picture of a woman. There's also some sex-related talk and a scene of former spouses cuddling in bed after suggested, offscreen sex. (She later learns that he's remarried.) A man punches another man, and a teen boy is said to have (accidentally) slapped a woman; she holds an ice pack to her face. Teens try to commit a robbery, but it's comically thwarted. The cast is good, but the story seems mechanical and never sparks to life.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMrWordNerd October 30, 2018

Very Few Bright Moments, Mostly Tedious and Too Many F-Bombs

Eight F-bombs in the first five minutes, then I lost count; lots of other profanities, and the film did not need any foul language! I'm OK with an appropri... Continue reading
Adult Written byRuralwannabe July 14, 2018

Will require discussions about scoff laws

As a kidless adult, both me and my husband enjoyed this movie. It hits many excellent family threads, why family counts, what happens if yours doesn't wor... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

In BOUNDARIES, single mom Laura Jaconi (Vera Farmiga) is in therapy, learning to set, yes, boundaries. She loves to adopt stray animals and is having trouble with her sensitive teen son, Henry (Lewis MacDougall); he likes to draw graphic naked pictures and has been expelled from school. Though Laura has been avoiding calls from her 85-year-old father, Jack (Christopher Plummer), she reluctantly decides to ask him for money for a private school for Henry. Unfortunately, Laura discovers that Jack, too, has been expelled -- from his nursing home, for dealing pot. While trying to figure out what to do next, Jack secretly enlists Henry for a plan: They must get Laura to drive them from Portland to Los Angeles, to the home of Laura's sister, JoJo (Kristen Schaal), where Jack will live. While on the road, Jack will sell the rest of his stash and raise $200,000. But spending all that time together will test the family in ways they never expected.

Is it any good?

Though blessed with outstanding performers, this indie dramedy/road movie never really sparks to life; it's a little too aware of its plot and character components and comes off as mechanical. Written and directed by Shana Feste (Country Strong, Endless Love), Boundaries frankly has too many boundaries, too much material that seems cobbled together from other screenplays or learned in screenwriting class, with too little room to breathe. Even more distressing, Laura comes across as high-strung, screechy, and irreversibly damaged. She's not much fun and not very appealing, and her character doesn't do much to advance the quality of female representation on-screen.

The main male characters are the ones who get to have fun and be silly. But they're both defined, simply, by a single character trait: Jack by his pot dealing and Henry by his drawings of naked people. These traits are meant to be humorously shocking, but the movie's muted tone -- it's trying to be a touching drama as well as a comedy -- dampens all the laughs. Fortunately, cheerful, squeaky-voiced goofball Schaal elevates the movie in her few scenes. JoJo is the only character who seems to have any kind of humorous self-conflict; she's unflappably happy despite her cramped living conditions. It's too bad the rest of Boundaries couldn't have cut loose a bit.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Boundaries portrays drugs and drug use. Is pot glamorized, and made to look cool or enticing? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

  • How are sex and nudity depicted? Why do you think Henry is interested in making nude drawings? How do other characters feel about them?

  • Is Laura a compelling character? Are there any moments that are about her? Does she make her own choices? How does she compare to JoJo?

  • What is the family relationship like in this movie? Do the family members communicate? Are they honest? Are they supportive or critical?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedies and dramas

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate