Jack Goes Boating

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Jack Goes Boating

It isn't surprising that a theater lover like Philip Seymour Hoffman would tackle an Off-Broadway show he once starred in for his directorial debut. As the titular limo driver and foolishly dreadlocked reggae enthusiast, Hoffman predictably knocks a familiar role out of the park (and just as unsurprisingly, wrings excellence from his performers) in this rather trivial, downbeat four-hander about a working-class couple trying to connect during a Gotham winter. But for a guy who has already exceeded his career quota in portraying tragicomic sad sacks (Boogie Nights, Happiness, Love Liza and on through Synecdoche, New York), why pick yet another schlemiel?

Through the matchmaking of his daydreamer buddy, Clyde (Ortiz), and his friend's wife, Lucy (Rubin-Vega), Jack finds himself wanting to impress a mortuary secretary (Ryan) by learning to cook and swim. The idea of commitment between these shy, vulnerable souls is introduced, and Clyde and Lucy's strained marriage explodes at roughly the same time---or rather, during the same dinner sequence. It's a mighty awkward adaptation for such an uncomplicated project, with one-location scenes broken up into needless NYC tours and impressionistically vivid projections of self-visualization exercises, all for the forced sake of a "cinematic" punch-up.---Aaron Hillis

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