Philip Seymour Hoffman's conciliatory, if occasionally risque piece of cinema of two working-class couples may be a little too predictable and precious for some, yet it has its modest charms.
From Bob Glaudini's play of a portly middle-aged socially backward New York City bachelor, Jack Goes Boating retains Hoffman, as well as costars John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega, which he adapts.
Hoffman's eponymous limo driver seems to only have two friends, colleague Clyde (Ortiz) and wife Lucy (Rubin-Vega).
Hoffman and Glaudini let a certain rueful amusement and drama develop as John and Lucy introduce Jack to an awkward, timid Connie (Amy Ryan, so good as a startling mother in Gone Baby Gone). She
Their blind date shows they have potential even if it doesn't go well and that Connie, a coworker of Lucy's at a funeral home, gets mugged and is in the doghouse of their goatish director boss (Tom McCarthy).
Jack Goes Boating understands the measured undertaking of personal and professional rebuilding, as well as romantic underpinnings. Goals include becoming a part of the MTA and getting lessons in order to take a nautical trip. The contrast with John and Lucy, well-played by Ortiz and Rubin-Vega, highlights a marital decline prompted by the latter.
Ultimately, Hoffman's admirable debut, is a kind look at lonely and broken hearts and faithful to its antecedent, low-key in its portrait of betrayal, friendship, grace and love. It's the kind of film one might expect of this talented actor giving to his cohorts as he makes good use of Manhattan and better use of an important dinner unexpected undone to very humorous effect.
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