Jack Goes Boating


Jack Goes Boating

Critics Consensus

It's made the journey from stage to screen somewhat worse for wear, but Jack Goes Boating remains a sensitive, well-acted character study.



Total Count: 108


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,027
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Movie Info

Adapted from Bob Glaudini's play of the same name, Philip Seymour Hoffman's directorial debut, Jack Goes Boating, tells the simple tale of Jack (Hoffman), a shy, fortyish limo driver with a fondness for pot and reggae music -- he likes it because it sounds happy -- who meets Connie (Amy Ryan) for a blind date set up by Connie's co-worker Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega), who is married to Jack's best friend and fellow limo driver, Clyde (John Ortiz). As the young couple tentatively come together, breaking through layers and layers of awkwardness and low self-esteem, Clyde and Lucy's marriage begins to dissolve because of Clyde's inability to get over an incident from their past. All the while, Clyde gives Jack swimming lessons so that he can take Connie on her dream date -- a boating trip on the lake. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi

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Amy Ryan
as Connie
Tom McCarthy
as Dr. Bob
Richard Petrocelli
as Uncle Frank
Lola Glaudini
as Italian Woman
Rafael Osorio
as Ungainly Swimmer
Mason Petit
as Drunk Man on Subway
Trevor Long
as Waldorf Doorman
Stephen Mailer
as Happy Husband
Elizabeth Rainer
as Happy Wife
Theodore Mailer
as Young Son
Count Stovall
as Men's Room Attendant
Elizabeth Rodriguez
as Waldorf Event Assistant
Beth Cole
as Teacher
Oliver Foote
as Swimming Teacher
Byron West
as Swimming Student
Cordell Stahl
as MTA Orientation Leader
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Critic Reviews for Jack Goes Boating

All Critics (108) | Top Critics (28)

  • There's an improvisatory air, overlaid with quirky charm but never any bite. Hoffman's performance needs tougher, more focused direction.

    Nov 4, 2011 | Rating: 2/5
  • In places it has the airless feel of an over-workshopped piece, but is rescued by excellent performances: in particular Amy Ryan as Connie, Jack's shy would-be girlfriend.

    Nov 3, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Cath Clarke

    Top Critic
  • Take Jack's lead and give this one a miss.

    Nov 3, 2011 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • The magnitude of the acting overshadows the modest reach of the material.

    Oct 7, 2010 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Hoffman the director can't compete with Hoffman the film's star. And he can pretty much just stand in wonder at the layers co-star Amy Ryan brings to the party. The woman is a natural wonder.

    Oct 1, 2010 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • The movie's heart and story, both bleeding and mending, and its quartet of characters are hard to abandon -- and easy to care about.

    Oct 1, 2010 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for Jack Goes Boating

  • Nov 10, 2013
    A film about ordinary people - perhaps they get a bit angrier about their lot in life than some of us do. The characters are struggling with their relationships, and we follow them as they move forward.
    Red L Super Reviewer
  • Apr 11, 2013
    Philip Seymour Hoffman has played some somewhat sorry suckers in his days, and now he has the chance to direct and star in an indie film about a shy, middle-aged bum who still lives with his uncle and doesn't know how to swim, and he ends up making a romantic comedy. Okay, maybe he not in all that much somewhat downputting stuff, or at least it doesn't seem like he is, because the man is just too blasted charming, as reflected by his making quite the lovable loser in this film. I must say, such an action is mighty impressive, because, woah boy, this Jack fella is a loser if there ever was one, so much so that he goes boating and doesn't even have the manhood to bring home fish. I don't know if he's necessarily in a lot of sad stuff, but it does seem like the only thing that distinguishes one P.S. Hoffman performance from another is the degree to which the character he is portraying is a loser, because when you down to it, Hoffman pretty much does keep playing the same roles, even though it does so charmingly. ... I don't necessarily know where I'm going to from there, partially because I can't help but continue to thing about my noting the boating aspect to this film, which makes this effort an indie Sundance entry about some bum who boats, so forget depressing, because this film sounds like it most has the potential to be boring. Well, people, rest assured that this film is far from as dull as this opener, because Hoffman's big directorial debut is a pretty entertaining one. Still, while the final product offers you a little of fun, the good times can roll on for only so long before slipping into the underwhelmingnenss that looms over this character study, partially becuase it could have done a bit more to flesh out, of all things, its characters. You can only do so much to undercook the characters of a character study, and it's not like this film is intensely aiming to do just that, yet immediate development offputtingly borders on all-out nonexistent, and gradual exposition isn't too much meatier, fleshing out the depths of our leads just fine, but not so much so that you bond with this story as much as you could have, to where you could, at the very least, overlook conventionalism, or at least as much as you can. It's very hard to miss the conventionalism within this formulaic indie rom-com, which never stood a chance of being too unique, but much too often hits one familiar beat after another, drawing familiar characters, and building around them a familiar story structure that is nothing short of ripe with predictability. It doesn't take too long at all before you find yourself hardly capable of ignoring where this story is heading, and from then on the film begins a slow, but sure spiral downward, growing more and more bland until, before too long, you're left with an underwhelming final product, which is brought down largely by its conventionalism, but is in no way helped by its bloating. Running a mere 91 minutes, this film, on paper, doesn't appear to have a whole lot of time to drag things out, but when you get down to the final product, oh boy does it try to make time, taking on a bit of excess material, - much of which is awkwardly overdrawn by baby tooth-loose scene structuring - as well as a quantity of filler that borders on a wealth, thinning out plot that, quite frankly, can't really afford to be all that thinned out. Nevermind its being so underdeveloped, or its being so generic, or even its being so excessively bloated, because what ranks up there, if not stands alone up there is the biggest issue behind this story is, of course, its being just so thin in conflict, momentum and all around structure. The telling of this story gets to be a bit forceful because there's not a whole lot to this story to begin with, and there's nothing too terribly wrong with that, because we're talking about a indie rom-com, something that has the potential to hold the entertainment value that this effort delivers on just fine, but isn't enough to make the all-out, bonafide good film that this effort isn't entirely. Still, while the film is hardly one to stick in your memory banks all that firmly, it's hard not to enjoy it while you're following it, as it is fairly moving at times and consistently entertaining, partially because of the color to its musical tastes. It's mighty hard to find good music nowadays, even in the indie market, which is often kind of underwhelming, no matter how much startingly better it typically is than any given diddy of the pop market, but with enough color to liven up, say, a film, as this product further proves, for although this film does only so much exploring of its obligatory indie soundtrack, it is just emphatic enough about the undeniably fair degree of charm within its so-so musical tastes to take on some liveliness that doesn't always need to be augmented by musicality to be palpable. The considerable indie realism that looms over this minimalist story thins out engagement value something fierce, so Robert Glaudini has his work cut out for him if he's going to compensate for dramatic underwhelmingness with colorful writing, and sure enough, this film's script, while overblown in certain areas and paper-thin in others, delivers on witty humor and believability to help keep you sticking with things. As for the characterization within Glaudini's script, like I said, it's pretty thin when it comes to development, telling you hardly nothing right off of the bat, and telling you only so much during the film's body, so it's not like we're looking at the most memorable of characters, yet what is done right in the drawing of our leads puts a human coat of color on things, thus making for characters who may be a bit too relatable for their own good, to the point of creating a bit of blandness, but earns a reasonable degree of your investment. There's a certain sensitivity behind this character study, whether it be in the fleshing out of human depths on paper, or in Philip Seymour Hoffman's direction, which has shortcomings that reflect Hoffman's lack of experience as a filmmaker, but is endearing in its charming delicacy, which breathes enough life into entertainment value - occasionally augmented by some nifty editing tastes that Brian A. Kates brings to life - to keep you going until more relatively dramatic notes come into play, finding themselves done justice by a heart within Hoffman's storytelling that particularly engages, maybe even moves. By the time we come to an almost surprisingly bittersweet ending, the final product as succeeded as a decent, if a little hard to remember character study, thanks to Hoffman's and Glaudini's flawed, yet enjoyable offscreen efforts, whose effectiveness is, of course, matched, if not topped by enjoyable onscreen efforts. As you can probably imagine, our performers have very little to work with, but we're still talking about a cast that, while small, is full of talent, and they all deliver, bringing enough charisma, chemistry and, at times, emotion to our lead characters to define them as relatably and charmingly human. This film is a very average one, no matter how much you would hope someone as big as Philip Seymour Hoffman would deliver, but when it's all said and done, what you're mostly likely to remember about this paint-by-the-numbers indie effort is its charm and talent, neither of which is too worthwhile, but considerable enough to make for an entertaining final product. Overall, the film is thin in exposition, thick with conventionalism, and bloated by aimlessly excessive material, which can't quite pad substance out enough for you to come close to ignoring the minimalism within this story concept that makes the final product a naturally underwhelming one, though not to where you can't appreciate the color of the soundtrack, charm of the writing, reasonable inspiration of the direction and charismatic of the acting that all go into making "Jack Goes Boating" an adequately entertaining, if a bit forgettably average character piece. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jul 12, 2012
    Throughout the years - either in leading roles like "Love Liza" "Capote" and "Doubt" or supporting roles such as "Boogie Nights" or "The Big Lebowski" - Philip Seymour Hoffman has always delivered consistency. As a result of this, he has become one of my favourite actors and like many respected performers he now takes his first step into directing. For his material, he chooses a play that he's familiar with (and one that he performed off-broadway). Wisely, Hoffman behind the camera doesn't go for anything flashy but instead, delivers a solid low-key character study. Jack (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a lonely chauffeur to Manhattan's upper middle classes. He takes comfort in his reggae and secretly wants to a Rastafarian. He also possesses a shyness which leaves him with very few friends. The one's that he does have, are his neighbours Clyde (John Ortiz) and Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega). Playing match-maker, Lucy introduces him to another of life's shy souls; Connie (Amy Ryan). As they awkwardly attempt to make a connection, they find that life doesn't always have to be a struggle. It's because of the range and high level of Hoffman's performances that I was so eager to see how he faired behind the camera. Now, this isn't a film that will instantly have you singing his praises from the rooftops but what it is, is a slow moving but deeply involving drama that pays attention to it's characters and their subtleties. This film is in no rush whatsoever but it's all the better for it. It allows us to completely get inside the minds and the hearts of the characters and allows the actors (in this case, four of them) to take centre stage and provide the goods. In keeping with playwright Robert Glaudini's off-broadway show, Hoffman casts the same actors; John Ortiz, Daphne Ruben-Vega and himself all reprise their roles. They all seem on very comfortable ground and new arrival Amy Ryan, no less so. Ultimately, this is a film about performances and they are all uniformly brilliant. They deliver vulnerable characters at odds with themselves and the world, showing extensive ranges of loneliness and weary outlooks. An emotive and pragmatic slice-of-life that's strictly for lovers of slow moving cinema. Some may find it tentative or cloying but I found it showed an awareness from a welcome new director.
    Mark W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 07, 2012
    Phillip Seymour hoffman directs for the first time here, and while its not mind blowing it has some nice touches and at its heart a interesting charactor in hoffmans performance also Amy Ryan and John Ortiz are good watches. a indie drama which comes like many others and good to see Hoffman go down this root.
    scott g Super Reviewer

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