Philip Seymour Hoffman has become quite the acclaimed movie star by working in many well nominated flics such as Capote, Doubt, and Charlie Wilson’s War. However, Mr. Hoffman does a great deal of stage work when he is not performing in front of a camera. His recent directorial debut involved a piece of stage work that he brought to film, Jack Goes Boating. Let us see how this plays out.
Jack (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Clyde (played by John Ortiz) are two limo drivers in New York City. They are both interested in moving out from the limo driving business. Clyde is attending night classes while Jack is thinking of applying at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. They are also best friends and Clyde is currently trying to hook up Jack with a girl named Connie (played by Amy Ryan).
Connie works with John’s long time girlfriend, Lucy (played by Daphne Rubin-Vega). They work together in phone sales at a local mortuary. One night, Connie and Jack meet with Clyde and Lucy’s help but have trouble getting conversation started. It isn’t until that they start walking home that they find common ground. Connie would like to go boating, but not now when it is so cold. With this thought, she also leaves Jack with a kiss to close the night.
The next morning, Jack realizes if he is going to take Connie boating, he must learn how to swim. Luckily, Clyde knows how to swim and teaches Jack with the help of visualization techniques. Connie unfortunately falls victim to being in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets attacked in the subway by an unknown assailant. She is rushed to the hospital and Jack visits her there. They talk some more once she is awake and then they decide that in about a month’s time, Jack will cook for her at a small dinner party.
But as one might guess, Jack doesn’t cook. But Clyde knows of a guy who will teach him. As it turns out, the only reason Clyde knows this guy because Lucy cheated on him with this guy (now there is a relationship). Furthermore, it wasn’t an isolated occurrence either. But Clyde has his own issues which include a broad range of subjects including trust and drugs. As each day passes, Jack gets closer to Connie (and vice versa), Clyde and Lucy seem to break further apart. Can Love survive?
As mentioned previously, this was an off-Broadway play and most of the original cast played their part when it came time for the movie (with the exception of Amy Ryan). Philip Seymour Hoffman is very talented and most of the actors turn in quite convincing performances. But there is just one problem, I can’t get behind the story at all because of a few key confusing moments.
The relationship between Connie and Jack while convincing isn’t exactly very interesting. Jack leads a fairly boring life outside of his bizarre haircut and Connie has a lot of issues with any sort of male contact. The actual interesting part of the movie has to do with Clyde and the tribulations he goes through. However, the end of the movie leaves us with a “What happens now?” in respect to Clyde. We can assume at least a short term happiness when it comes to Connie and Jack.
There is one thing I would like to warn the viewer about.
*Possible spoilers ahead*.
There is a dinner scene where Jack finally does the cooking for his friends and Connie. It ruins the movie in the aspect that right in the middle of the service, they bring out a hooka (and we aren’t talking legal smoke here either) to smoke some pot and followed by even more drugs in the form of snorting lines of coke. There is obvious fallout from this but it just seemed so completely out of place that it could leave the viewer very confused.
*End of spoilers*
The video is in 1.85:1 widescreen presentation at 1080p resolution. New York City comes into focus here with a lot of shots that can be easily spotted by the locals. But in reality I think this could have been any city, USA and it would have worked. The colors for the sites and sets are pretty decent and there is nothing that you could really mark as a negative. It is about as good as you could expect Philip Seymour Hoffman to look with a Rastafarian haircut. Okay, maybe that’s not a good analogy.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English True-HD track. Since this is mostly a romantic comedy with a few dramatic moments, we don’t get much in the way of audio. Dialog is pretty clear and you shouldn’t have any problem with following along. There are no real surround effects to speak of except for the occasional occurrence when John Ortiz wants to break a fire alarm with a baseball bat. Subtitles are provided for English SDH and Spanish folks.
- Automatic Trailers: Stone and Let Me In
- Jack’s New York 3:50: They go over the locale of New York and how it was important for them to shoot the movie in the famous city. They used a lot of actual places in the shooting of the movie and did succeed at being authentic.
- From Stage to Big Screen 4:35: As went over before, this was a play with most of the same cast before coming to big screen. They go over the fact that they had the chance to be a lot more open and took the movie to different places.
- Deleted Scenes 1:52 : Only a couple of deleted scenes. Both are focused in the New York subway with Connie doing one of the scenes and Jack the other. Like the movie, these can just be described as odd.
- Theatrical Trailer 2:22: The original trailer. As usual, makes it seem a lot more interesting than it ended up being.
- Previews: City Island, Solitary Man, Sunshine Cleaning, The Visitor and Last Chance Harvey
Some people will absolutely love Jack Goes Boating. It won’t be just PSH fans either, there is some charm to the movie. But for me, I can’t buy into the love story. It’s almost as if they try to hard to give it too many issues instead of keeping it simple. Heck, the story of John Ortiz as Clyde is more intriguing than the actual romantic comedy portion. The disc is pretty decent fare with above average video (thanks to the New York locale), decent audio and at least a few extras. Personally, I wishes they would have included a showing of the play. I have a feeling I would have liked the stage presentation a lot better. PSH fans should probably rent this, but most are better just passing it on by.