"Slow, Depressing Character Study"
JACK GOES BOATING, based on the stage play of the same name, stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as Jack, a down-on-his-luck New York City limo driver who turns his life around after a blind date. It’s a romanticized but slow and depressing character study.
Jack is a lonely guy, a simple limo driver. He is quiet, reserved and shy. Although he has dreams of becoming a driver for the New York City MTA, he has no impetus to reach for those dreams. His best friends, indeed his only friends, are Clyde and Lucy, a couple whose marriage is on the rocks, because both hold grudges against the other’s infidelity.
One day, Lucy sets Jack up on a blind date with Connie, a woman who is just as shy and afraid of the world as Jack is. Even though it is the middle of winter, Connie tells Jack she has dreams of going boating. Jack tells her he will take her boating when summer comes. There is just one problem: Jack does not swim.
Clyde decides to teach Jack how to swim. Over the course of the next several months, Jack learns to take a plunge in both life and love. As the months unfold, Jack learns to overcome his fears. He and Connie start to fall in love just as Clyde and Lucy’s marriage starts to fall apart. All of the drama comes to a head one night in Clyde and Lucy’s apartment as the four friends drink, smoke and take drugs such as pot and cocaine.
JACK GOES BOATING, which is also Philip Seymour Hoffman’s directorial debut, is a superbly acted movie by all four actors. The movie definitely feels like a character-driven, stage play rather than a feature film, yet Hoffman aptly catches the pace of the story. However, the story itself lacks several strategic plot points, such as the reasons behind Jack transforming his life. It is incredulous to believe that a blind date with a woman who is just as broken and scared as Jack is the catalyst for him to take charge of his life.
The movie also has excessively offensive content. It contains a strong Romantic worldview that focuses on love as the highest human emotion and man’s inherent goodness, even though the characters are broken and immoral. There is also strong graphic sexual dialogue including discussions of Clyde and Lucy discussing their extramarital affairs, excessive foul language and a lot of illegal drug use, including depicted cocaine use.
All in all, the movie is excessive. Media-wise viewers can choose many other, more moral options.
(RoRoRo, PaPa, B, LLL, V, SS, N, AA, DDD, MM); Mostly mixed pagan worldview with overall theme of Romanticism that holds emotional love in highest regard and focuses on man’s inherent goodness, even while highlighting immoral characters, plus minor reference to God when one man quips, “From your mouth to God’s ear”; 48 obscenities, nine profanities and one obscene gesture; violence includes woman hospitalized with broken nose and bruised face, implying that man attacked her on subway, men push and shove each other, and man throws dishes around the kitchen in anger; strong sexual content includes graphic sexual dialogue as married couple describes how they both have had affairs, woman is groped and harassed by her boss, man gropes wife’s breasts, man stimulates woman, unmarried kissing, and implied fornication; upper male nudity in swimming pool and woman wears lingerie around the house; alcohol consumption and drunkenness; heavy smoking and drug use depicted, including friends smoke a hookah pipe, marijuana use depicted, and cocaine use depicted; and, lying, deception and revenge tactics used between married couple for their adulterous affairs.
JACK GOES BOATING is a slow character study based on a stage play. Philip Seymour Hoffman, who also directs, plays Jack, a down-on-his-luck limo driver in New York City. Jack is a quiet, reserved, shy, and lonely man. He dreams of becoming a driver for the MTA but they remain unfulfilled. His best friends, indeed his only friends, are Clyde and Lucy, a couple whose marriage is on the rocks, because both hold grudges against the other’s infidelity. One day, Lucy sets Jack up on a blind date with Connie, a woman who is just as shy and afraid of the world as Jack is. Their growing relationship helps Jack come out of his shell. Just as they fall in love, Clyde and Lucy’s marriage falls apart.
JACK GOES BOATING is superbly acted. The movie feels like a character-driven stage play rather than a feature film, yet Hoffman aptly catches the pace of the story. However, the story itself lacks several strategic plot points, such as the reasons behind Jack turning his life around. It also contains excessively offensive content, extreme drug use, crude dialogue, and other graphic content.