Jack Goes Boating
Common Sense Media says
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this character-based drama (which marks the directorial debut of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who also stars) is poignant and touching but meant for adults thanks to its frequent sex talk, drinking and drug use, and language (especially "f--k"). Hoffman's character is somewhat inspirational, pulling himself out of a sad existence when he meets a girl and trying to improve himself so he deserves her. But at the same time, his best friend's marriage is falling apart. Teens may not be interested in this quiet story, but adults who are already Hoffman fans may appreciate it.
What's the story?
Jack (Philip Seymour Hoffman) works for his uncle as a limo driver, as does his best friend, Clyde (John Ortiz). Jack is a sad, quiet, shy type who isn't very social. During a New York winter, Clyde's wife, Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega), sets him up on a blind date with a co-worker, Connie (Amy Ryan). They hit it off, setting a date for the next summer to go boating in the park. But Jack can't swim, so he arranges for lessons with Clyde. He also learns to cook so that he can invite Connie to a dinner party. Unfortunately, everything goes wrong at the party, with Clyde and Lucy's marriage disintegrating faster than Jack and Lucy's relationship progresses.
Is it any good?
Already a celebrated actor, Hoffman makes his directorial debut in this drama based upon a 2007 play by Bob Glaudini (in which Hoffman also starred). Perhaps not surprisingly, the result is more character-based than it is flashy or visual. It would almost come across as a fairly routine indie/Sundance-type movie if not for the superior acting and subtle characterization.
A surface reading shows a good number of "quirky" touches -- from Jack's penchant for reggae music and his quasi-dreadlocked hair to the montage "learning" sequences to some of the staging and soundtrack choices. But Hoffman clearly feels this material, and he turns it into an intimate, emotionally rich atmosphere, with the four leads playing off of one another with great skill, comfort, and complexity; the movie is strong enough for a second reading. It's a refreshing drama made by and for grown-ups.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the relationship between Jack and Connie. Are they good communicators? Do they do a good job of discussing what they want and what they're afraid of? How does this affect the way that the movie depicts sex?
Is Jack a good role model? Throughout the film, everyone seems to help him, but he's rarely able to offer any help back -- does that make him selfish? Would he help if he could?