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Jack Goes Boating DVD Review

Jack Goes Boating (2010) movie poster Jack Goes Boating

Theatrical Release: September 17, 2010 / Running Time: 91 Minutes / Rating: R / Songs List

Director: Philip Seymour Hoffman / Writer: Bob Glaudini (play & screenplay)

Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman (Jack), Amy Ryan (Connie), John Ortiz (Clyde), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Lucy), Salvatore Inzerillo (Federic "Cannoli"), Tom McCarthy (Dr. Bob Thomas), Richard Petrocelli (Uncle Frank), Stephen Adly Guirgis (MTA Worker), Lola Glaudini (Italian Woman), Count Stovall (Men's Room Attendant)

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Philip Seymour Hoffman has achieved much in his first twenty years of acting, while defying Hollywood's rule that leading men be fit and handsome. Hoffman has built and sustained a career on respect that enables him his choice of projects and collaborators. Jack Goes Boating, his latest film, enlists him as star, executive producer, and, for the first time ever, director. The Oscar-winning actor makes his behind-the-camera debut with an adaptation of Bob Glaudini's 2007 Off-Broadway play of the same name.

Meet Jack (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the reggae-appreciating limo driver lead who learns how to cook a dinner in "Jack Goes Boating." Meet Connie (Amy Ryan), the comparably socially awkward love interest, who tries to sell seminars over the phone for a mortuary.

Hoffman plays Jack, a slightly awkward New York City limousine driver. At the film's opening, he is being set up by his colleague Clyde (John Ortiz), his best and seemingly only friend.
The Chinese takeout date, with mortuary telemarketer Connie (Amy Ryan, the only lead cast member not a part of the original stage show), is rather unremarkable but she herself is accessible and awkward enough to supply hope. Furthermore, her offhand remark about boating together in the summer inspires Jack to get Clyde to teach him how to swim.

Jack and Connie's relationship doesn't exactly take flight and to share some of the bigger developments on that front would astonish you at the film's uneventfulness. The two continue to spend more time together and Jack takes extensive measures to realize his promise to cook a real meal for Connie, a goal devoted enough time to make Jack Tries Cooking a more fitting title and sliced onions a more appropriate overhead poster/cover subject.

Meanwhile, the film is as much about another couple's dissolution as it is the inexperienced pair's wading into romance. The long-term couple is Clyde and his wife Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega), Connie's co-worker. The seemingly decent Clyde is increasingly consumed by jealousy over his wife's past infidelities, transgressions that coupled with alcohol and illicit drugs stupefy and enrage him.

Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega) and Clyde (John Ortiz) are the more interesting and tumultuous of the film's two couples. To realize the titular activity, Jack (Philip Seymour Hoffman) must first learn to swim.

This is an extremely inert film, one whose titular activity is an afterthought and whose characters aren't given enough personality or depth to justify lingering on their largely mundane interactions. Jack is a curious fellow, a quiet man who is rarely without a reggae-dispensing Walkman and his knitted cap (which hides half-hearted dreadlocks). There is nothing to explain or even hint at why he is this way, socially stunted and resistant towards technology. While Glaudini's screenplay doesn't have to spell everything out, it could spell a few things out to allow us a better understanding and appreciation of these reticent characters we're meant to be mesmerized by.
Jack and Connie are both ciphers, so it's tough to know why we should care if they take a slow journey to intimacy and how they choose to reconsider.

Clyde and Lucy's plight is more substantive, but also unsatisfying. The movie seems determined to make you think that rising and fading passions make this couple destined for a violent end. In fact, clumsy personal revelations are the height of the film's contributions to the age-old challenges of long-term monogamy, which is about the extent of the movie's intellect.

I suspect that more is lost than gained in translating this play to film, at least for everyone who doesn't have an underwater fetish for Hoffman to stoke. In theatre, especially the Off-Broadway variety, there is the opportunity to get into characters' minds as they share time and space with you. Whether it was just a poor choice for adaptation or insufficiently realized, Hoffman's intimate film offers little to think, care, or laugh about.

After a modest theatrical run in less than 100 theaters last fall as one of Overture Films' final releases, Jack Goes Boating came to DVD and Blu-ray last month.

Jack Goes Boating (2010) DVD cover art -- click to buy DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: January 18, 2011
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.98
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($39.99 SRP)
and Video on Demand


As in every other regard, Jack Goes Boating is subdued visually. The 1.85:1 widescreen presentation is perfectly clean and full of detail, but its images will seem ordinary to everyone but the aforementioned aquatic fetishists. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also average. Though it is clear and opens up nicely for a bit of atmosphere and some featured songs, it will be forgotten even more quickly than the movie it's attached to.

Images of the Off-Broadway play from which three-fourths of the leading cast hails are seen in "From the Stage to the Big Screen." John Ortiz shows off his angry jealous stare pose in the DVD's main menu montage.


The light extras slate kicks off with "Jack's NY: The New York City of Jack Goes Boating" (3:52), which gathers comments from cast and crew about The City That Never Sleeps and what it meant filming there.

The more general "From the Stage to the Big Screen" (4:34) focuses on the adaptation process,
but it relies more on film clips than actor and filmmaker sound bites.

Two deleted scenes (1:58) find Connie and Jack separately interacting with and observing strangers on a subway.

Jack Goes Boating's own original theatrical trailer (2:22) is kindly preserved here.

Finally, "Also on DVD" supplies full-length trailers for Stone, Let Me In, City Island, Solitary Man, Sunshine Cleaning, The Visitor, and Last Chance Harvey. The first two play automatically at disc insertion.

Topped by a two-textured slipcover that gives Amy Ryan its second spine, the eco-friendly keepcase's only insert promotes a New York vacation sweepstakes from Delta. I would imagine the odds of winning can't be too bad considering the overlooked nature of this movie.

Jack (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Connie (Amy Ryan) get intimate, or rather talk slowly about slowly getting intimate in "Jack Goes Boating."


Jack Goes Boating has some interesting ideas and qualities, but not nearly enough to be considered anything but a disappointment overall. It's not bad enough to regret seeing and as the typical person is rarely exposed to intimate character studies, I'm reluctant to dismiss it altogether. Still, there are much better films of this sort out there, as Hoffman fans ought to know. Anchor Bay's DVD offers a fine feature presentation but does the film no favor with its brisk, fluffy bonus materials.

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Related Reviews:
Philip Seymour Hoffman: Doubt | Featuring Amy Ryan: Gone Baby Gone • Dan in Real Life • Home Improvement: The Complete First Season
New: For Colored Girls • You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger • Welcome to the Rileys • Animal Kingdom • Waiting for "Superman"
Greenberg • The Kids Are All Right • City Island • Cyrus • Happy-Go-Lucky • Away We Go • The Soloist • Multiple Sarcasms • Julie & Julia
Overture Films: Stone • Let Me In • Brooklyn's Finest • The Men Who Stare at Goats

Jack Goes Boating Songs List): The Melodians - "Rivers of Babylon", Dave's True Story - "Blue Moon", Mel Tormι - "Hello, Young Lovers", Goldfrapp - "Eat Yourself", Jσsef Balogh: Danubius Quartet - "Clarinet Quartet, K. 374f in E Flat Major: Ill. Rondo: Allegretto", DeVotchKa - "Dearly Departed", Fleet Foxes - "Oliver James", Cat Power - "Where is My Love", Darondo - "Didn't I", Fleet Foxes - "White Winter Hymnal", Bill Evans - "Peace Piece"

Jack Goes Boating: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack:
Download from iTunes • Download MP3s from Amazon.com • Buy CD from Amazon.com

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Reviewed February 15, 2011.

Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2010 Overture Films, Big Beach, Cooper's Town, and 2011 Anchor Bay Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.