Jack Goes Boating
by Jef Burnham
Coming to Blu-ray and DVD January 18, 2011 from Anchor Bay Entertainment.
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Jack Goes Boating marks the directorial debut of Academy Award-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote, Synecdoche, New York). Based on the play and adapted for the screen by Bob Glaudini, the film stars the same cast that brought the play to life on the stage, including Hoffman himself in the role of Jack. The film co-stars Academy Award Nominee Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone), John Ortiz (American Gangster), and Daphne Rubin-Vega of Broadway’s Rent.
Jack follows the birth of one relationship as another is coming to its end. Jack (Hoffman) and Connie (Ryan) are two singles introduced by friends who try deperately to turn their acquaintanceship into a committed relationship. Meanwhile, their aforementioned mutual friends, Clyde (Ortiz) and Lucy (Rubin-Vega), are attempting to salavage a crumbling marriage. In many ways, Jack Goes Boating is just another independent feature playing into all the indy tropes. The requisite socially inept, kooky characters say and do kooky things to one another until everyone starts yelling three-quarters of the way through the film and they all learn something about themselves in the end.
But one critical element sets Hoffman’s picture apart from his peers’— a stylistic choice that allows the film to transcend the script’s conventionality. As characters in the film, Jack in particular, learn new skills such as cooking or swimming, they visualize themselves executing them perfectly. The power and the importance of these sequences cannot be understated. They make you feel that the characters are genuinely trying to better themselves, not just acting according to some kooky whim. And it’s this motif of striving for perfection when nothing ever is, coupled with incredibly strong performances from all, that makes Jack Goes Boating very much worth your time.
Special features include two deleted scenes; the theatrical trailer; “Jack’s New York,” a featurette in which the cast and crew discuss “the real” New York as backdrop to the film; and “From Stage to the Screen,” a making-of featurette that includes, among other things, some intriguing stills from the stage production.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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