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Movie Review: 'Jack Goes Boating' showcases talent of Philip Seymour Hoffman

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“Jack Goes Boating”
Directed by: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan, Daphne Rubin-Vega, John Ortiz.
Rated: R

Memorial Day weekend is the official beginning of the summer movie season. And it's usually filled with high dollar blockbusters and sequels. This year is no different. There are some films that simply don't need to be reviewed - by anyone. “Kung Fu Panda 2,” “The Hangover Part II,” “X Men: First Class” and things of their ilk are perfect examples. If you saw the originals and liked them, you'll see the sequels. And they pretty much will be the same as the originals. The most promising film released this week is Terrence Malick's “The Tree of Life,” but it won't likely play in Springfield until mid-summer.

So, at these dips,  I usually try to dig up a lesser known film that is now out on DVD. This time I found a doozie that was released in 2010. It's called “Jack Goes Boating.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman is the most unlikely of leading movie stars. He's sort of built like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, is fairly quiet and calm, and also doesn't mind playing characters with flaws. But in the end, he wins; because the fact is, he is a phenomenal actor and has the innate ability to win the audience over and make us care for any character he is playing. His oeuvre dates back 20 years now and includes some of the best performances of those two decades. Think of “Magnolia,” “Synecdoche, New York,” “Charlie Wilson's War” and “Love Liza.”

With “Jack Goes Boating,” Hoffman turns in another stunning performance and also makes his debut as a director. He's as good and as effective as a director as he is an actor.

The film is based on the play written by Bob Glaudini. Hoffman and co-stars Daphne Rubin-Vega and John Ortiz all starred in the stage production and they reprise their roles here.

The play, and the film, have been compared to the 1955 movie “Marty,”  written by Paddy Chayefsky. The title characters are strikingly similar. Both have somewhat melancholy characters with good hearts, gentle spirits and the best of intentions.

Hoffman plays Jack, a limousine driver who is affable to all of the rich (and sometimes annoying) clients he serves. He seems to accept his lot in life; he's as content as a man of his demeanor can be.

Jack's best friends, the married couple Clyde (John Ortiz) and Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega), fix him up with one of Lucy's co-workers, Connie (Amy Ryan), who is nearly as shy and awkward as Jack. Clyde and Lucy figure they will be a perfect match. And they are. But it takes a while for them to meld. This fact is the heart of the film and Hoffman, both as actor and director, makes it work beautifully.
Clyde also has other plans for Jack. He is going to teach him to swim, the intricacies of boating, how to cook dinner for a date and how to like himself.

I love “food” movies, and “Jack Goes Boating” has a great dinner scene that ranks in the top ten.

It's a sweet and tender movie and Hoffman shows great promise as a director.

Immediately after watching the DVD I bought my own one online. Five bucks, including shipping. Go figure. Great little movies like this, at times, somehow slip through the cracks.[[In-content Ad]]


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