A limousine driver that lives in his Uncle’s basement, Jack, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman [“Doubt,” “Pirate Radio”], has modest dreams of working for the MTA and having love in his life. Terribly shy however, Jack needs some help in that department. Thankfully, his two closest friends, Lucy [Daphne Rubin-Vega] and Clyde [John Ortiz] sense his quiet desperation and set him up with the equally as lonely Connie, played by Amy Ryan.
What ensues is a love story that, albeit quirky, is heartwarming and a testament of the human condition.
We all need to love and we all do so in different ways; “Jack Goes Boating” shows us that every action we partake in when in a relationship eventually either catches up to us or helps a beautiful flower blossom, making us reap what we sew. Not many romance comedies show this type of personal accountability and because of that, the film is easily accessible, friendly and fun.
Through this, regardless of your affinity for romance comedies, it’s easy to associate with Jack and his tribe. Everyone’s been in the bad relationship that encompasses half of the film and just as many people have longed for the true happiness both Jack and Connie seem desperate for. Because of that, “Jack Goes Boating” is a flick that caters to a wide array of audiences and is sure to satisfy all of them.
Feeling like “Chasing Amy” meets “The Break Up,” “Jack Goes Boating” is as honest a love story as you can get. It doesn’t pull any punches when it shows Jack in his escapades to win Connie’s heart and as a result, makes Hoffman a character that you’ll pull for from start to finish. Learning to swim and cook in order to prepare himself for various dates with her, Hoffman is believable as Jack, an eclectic wannabe-Rastafarian who gets through his loneliness thanks to his favorite reggae tunes and a positive outlook.
The same way Hoffman captures your heart is the same way the rest of the cast is able to strike a chord as well. The helpful naiveté of Ortiz and the weariness and impulsiveness of Rubin-Vega, who both appeared in the off-Broadway version of the film a few years ago, make them a more than passable pair that are more than just a counterpoint to the fairy tale relationship that Jack and Connie have, giving the film the type of balance it needs to truly thrive. However, even the problems Lucy and Clyde have with their relationship are real ones and seeing both the best and worst things that come with giving someone your heart make “Jack Goes Boating” one of the most thought-provoking rom-coms in quite some time.
As well, Adams’ ability to be kinky, coy, loving and scared, all at the same time, add an extra flavor to the film, combine with the charisma of Hoffman and create the core of a film that is utterly irresistible.
Helping matters even more is an excellent score that brings the characters alive and cinematography that drives the already stellar plot. An excellent love story by itself, the scenery of New York City and the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple add an extra beauty to the film and make it more than memorable.
Overall, with Hoffman leading the charge on-screen and off as director, combined with an upbeat and diverse cast and a score and cinematography that become characters themselves, “Jack Goes Boating” is not only one of the best films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it’s a great film all by itself.