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Jack Goes Boating - Blu-ray Review

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Jack Goes Boating - Blu-ray Movie Review

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4 stars

Bringing a stage play to the big screen poses some problems, but mostly it can open the story up in exciting ways – which is exactly what happens with this film adaptation of Bob Glaudini's 2007 stage play. No longer is this a play strictly about “pot heads” in love.  Suddenly, with an embracing of seldom seen New York locations and a story allowed to breathe and to expand, we have a genuine and nuanced film about people in love. Directed by its star, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jack Goes Boating is a charming and funny film that flows nicely without a single disturbance in its waters.

Hoffman plays Jack, a relatively plain man in a plain life.  He’s alone, not too sure of himself around women and seems to be hiding a lot of anger behind his round self.  His best friend Clyde (John Ortiz) wants to see him happy, so he suggests Jack meet Connie (Amy Ryan).  Connie, emotionally distant and awkward around everyone, is an employee of Clyde’s wife Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega).  As Jack, whose only emotional release is through his cassette walkman – specifically The Melodians' "River of Babylon" – begins to date Connie, Clyde and Lucy’s marital issues threaten to shake loose everything wrong about Jack and Connie; forcing the four friends to collapse within themselves in order to face the future.  Adapted by Glaudini, Jack Goes Boating is a warm and fuzzy romp through some pretty cold waters.

Make no mistake, this is a romantic comedy, but cleverly disguising it as something more are some pretty incredible performances from the four main characters and some seriously weighty direction from Hoffman.  This might be his debut, but the man handles his direction as grandly as he does his acting.  You don’t have to be a fan of Hoffman in order to understand how seriously great his direction is; nothing detracts from the story and everything feels so … uncomplicated and simple.  Yet, it isn’t.

Like Woody Allen’s finest films, Jack Goes Boating does more to in five minutes than most films do in 90 minutes; it talks to us.  Glaudini speaks of relationship truths.  There’s an authenticity to the words.  Even the arguments between Clyde and Lucy feel intrinsically organic, yet do their job in framing the awkward silences between Jack and Connie.  All this, coupled with Jack’s efforts to learn how to swim, refreshingly breathe, not as a constructed story, but as a living organism with a very raw bundle of nerves at its center.

Even more, behind those words are the actors performing in a league above the rest.  Hoffman never seems aware as an actor; he disappears into the role of Jack.  Ryan, in what might be her first non-grating lead performance, does wonders with her role as the damaged damsel whom Jack must rescue from herself.  Ortiz, maybe knowing Hoffman better than he knows himself, seems to anticipate his friend’s responses and throws the beat back at him.  It’s an incredible duo on-screen, balancing their words with an understanding of Glaudini’s use of narrative subtext.

Jack Goes Boating isn’t for everyone as it speaks more to the adult and less to the child and, as if fully knowing its own roots, cops a couple of scenes from Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam.  It’s consistently fresh, though; surprising for the limitations of its romantic comedy genre, but not from its director and writer and performers.  Understated, yet confident, Jack Goes Boating scores its goal because of its hard-beating and uncynical heart.

{pgomakase}

{2jtab: Film Info}

Jack Goes Boating - Blu-ray Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for language, drug use and some sexual content.
Director: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Writer
: Robert Glaudini
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman; John Ortiz; Robert Petrocelli; Amy Ryan
Genre
: Comedy | Drama | Romance
Memorable Movie Quote: "Don't worry, I'm a good swimmer."
Distributor:
Relativity Media (theatrical); Anchor Bay Entertainment (DVD)
Release Date:
September 23, 2010
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
January 18, 2011

Synopsis: Jack Goes Boating is a tale of love, betrayal, friendship, and grace set against the backdrop of working-class New York City life. Jack (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Connie (Amy Ryan) are two single people who on their own might continue to recede into the anonymous background of the city, but in each other begin to find the courage and desire to pursue their budding relationship. In contrast, the couple that introduced them, Clyde (John Ortiz) and Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega), have been together a long time and are confronting unresolved issues in their marriage.

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{2jtab: Blu-ray Details}

Jack Goes Boating - Blu-ray Movie Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

2 stars



Blu-ray Experience
3 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - January 18, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English, Spanish
Audio:
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)

Presented in its original 1.85.1 format, Jack Goes Boating sports a shiny gloss courtesy of its 1080p transfer.  The colors are consistently sharp and pure.  Black levels are solid and deepen the crisp look of W. Mott Hupfel III’s camerawork.  The sound, deep and powerful, is presented in a Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 track and, while it won’t do wonders to the floorboards with bass heavy explosions, it will give you a good immersive sound field experience.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Sadly, there is none from Hoffman or his crew.  An oversight from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Special Features:

There aren’t a lot, but from a quiet film like this one, you shouldn’t really expect a lot.  What you are given you gives a glimpse into the locations used for the film, the challenges of bringing the stage play to film, and the actors thoughts on working for Hollman.

The breakdown is as follows:

  • Jack’s New York (5 min)
  • From the Stage to the Big Screen (6 min)
  • Two Deleted Scenes (2 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}

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