Jack Goes Boating movie poster
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Jack Goes Boating movie poster

Jack Goes Boating Movie Review

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Philip Seymour Hoffman makes his directorial debut with Jack Goes Boating and, fittingly, the movie gives the celebrated but frumpy actor the rare opportunity to star in a romantic comedy. The movie, while not perfect, is one of the most heartwarming and emotionally charged romances of the year.

In Jack Goes Boating, Hoffman is Jack, a lonely limo driver, a man of few words, a fly on the wall who is watching the relationship between his best friend Clyde (John Ortiz) and Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega) slowly tear itself apart. He is set up with Connie (Amy Ryan), an awkward but kind woman in her own right, and the two slowly develop a loving but sensitive relationship.

Jack Goes Boating is written by first-time movie screenwriter Robert Glaudini, which in turn is based on his own play. Hoffman takes Glaudini's work and turns it into a beautiful, mesmerizing tale that features great performances, energized dialogue and one of the best soundtracks and scores in recent memory. Hoffman dives into the minds of his characters; he keeps things intimate, featuring lots of close-up shots, and takes full advantage of his actors' abilities to express feelings simmering just beneath the surface.

The movie looks and feels like a drama, and in many ways it is. The climax revolves around a painful "argument" between two of the leads, and the movie emphasizes the struggles of the main character. And yet it's an uplifting film and funny; it may look and feel like a drama, but it is at its heart a romantic comedy. Hoffman is hilarious and Ryan, who showed great comedic timing in "The Office", shares great chemistry with the actor. Ortiz at first appears to be playing his part over-the-top, but in hindsight he delivers a perfect, hyper-charged performance that is both funny and destructive.

Jack Goes Boating is funny throughout. Most of the comedy is subtle, even to the point where at times you're not sure if you are supposed to be laughing. Strangely, the movie becomes much more overt in the third act, to the degree that it becomes jarring. The third act is intentionally uncomfortable and more outrageous than expected, and yet emotionally satisfying when all is said and done.

There are a few slow parts scattered throughout, and the movie's switch from quiet comedy to in-your-face crazy in the third act takes some getting used to, but Jack Goes Boating is a satisfying romantic comedy that defies convention. It marks a great directorial debut for Philip Seymour Hoffman and is one of the better movies of 2010.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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