Box art for Jack Goes Boating

Jack Goes Boating


Academy-Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman directs, produces, and stars alongside Academy-Award nominee Amy Ryan, John Ortiz, and Daphne Rubin-Vega in this unconventional romantic comedy.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 16
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive messages
1 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
3 out of 5
1 out of 5

Touching story about relationships is for mature viewers.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this character-based drama (which marks the directorial debut of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who also stars) is poignant and touching but meant for adults thanks to its frequent sex talk, drinking and drug use, and language (especially "f--k"). Hoffman's character is somewhat inspirational, pulling himself out of a sad existence when he meets a girl and trying to improve himself so he deserves her. But at the same time, his best friend's marriage is falling apart. Teens may not be interested in this quiet story, but adults who are already Hoffman fans may appreciate it.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the relationship between Jack and Connie. Are they good communicators? Do they do a good job of discussing what they want and what they're afraid of? How does this affect the way that the movie depicts sex?
  • Does Clyde have a problem with drinking, smoking, or drugs? Is he addicted, or is he using the substances to ease the pain of his failing marriage? Is that an excuse?
  • Is Jack a good role model? Throughout the film, everyone seems to help him, but he's rarely able to offer any help back -- does that make him selfish? Would he help if he could?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 25
    see all Jack Goes Boating reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: As is so often the case in modest, aimless little movies like this one, it is the acting that saves Jack Goes Boating from triviality or worse.

- A.O. Scott, New York Times, Friday, September 17, 2010

Rotten: It's a mighty awkward adaptation for such an uncomplicated project...

- Aaron Hillis, Time Out New York, Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rotten: Glaudini expects character tics to substitute for plot development.

- Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film, Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Throughout the years - either in leading roles like "Love Liza" "Capote" and "Doubt" or supporting roles such as "Boogie Nights" or "The Big Lebowski" - Philip Seymour Hoffman has always delivered consistency. As a result of this, he has become one of my favourite actors and like many respected performers he now takes his first step into directing. For his material, he chooses a play that he's familiar with (and one that he performed off-broadway). Wisely, Hoffman behind the camera doesn't go for anything flashy but instead, delivers a solid low-key character study. Jack (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a lonely chauffeur to Manhattan's upper middle classes. He takes comfort in his reggae and secretly wants to a Rastafarian. He also possesses a shyness which leaves him with very few friends. The one's that he does have, are his neighbours Clyde (John Ortiz) and Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega). Playing match-maker, Lucy introduces him to another of life's shy souls; Connie (Amy Ryan). As they awkwardly attempt to make a connection, they find that life doesn't always have to be a struggle. It's because of the range and high level of Hoffman's performances that I was so eager to see how he faired behind the camera. Now, this isn't a film that will instantly have you singing his praises from the rooftops but what it is, is a slow moving but deeply involving drama that pays attention to it's characters and their subtleties. This film is in no rush whatsoever but it's all the better for it. It allows us to completely get inside the minds and the hearts of the characters and allows the actors (in this case, four of them) to take centre stage and provide the goods. In keeping with playwright Robert Glaudini's off-broadway show, Hoffman casts the same actors; John Ortiz, Daphne Ruben-Vega and himself all reprise their roles. They all seem on very comfortable ground and new arrival Amy Ryan, no less so. Ultimately, this is a film about performances and they are all uniformly brilliant. They deliver vulnerable characters at odds with themselves and the world, showing extensive ranges of loneliness and weary outlooks. An emotive and pragmatic slice-of-life that's strictly for lovers of slow moving cinema. Some may find it tentative or cloying but I found it showed an awareness from a welcome new director.

- MrMarakai, Thursday, July 12, 2012

3 stars

Jack goes Boating is subtle and heartfelt. It's the gentle, real and awkward love story amongst the deluge of brash not-particularly-funny rom-coms that are in abundance. Visually, it's a triumph for Philip Seymour Hoffman in his directional debut, his supporting cast are also brilliant, Ortiz, Ryan and Rubin-Vega pretty much carry the film. My only criticism, and it's quite an important and harsh one I'm afraid, is that it is very boring. I realise the importance of the subtlety of this film, but it's Seymour Hoffman's nothing performance that really suffocates this film that is desperately trying to come up for air. It's a shame, I really did like this film, I liked the story and I liked the characters, it just didn't have that spark it should have - Jack himself being the major issue.

- SirPant, Wednesday, July 9, 2014

3 stars

Directed and starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jack Goes Boating tells an interesting tale of love found and lost - using the parallel tales of Jack (Hoffman), a rather simple minded guy who is courting a damaged woman (terrific portrayal by Amy Ryan), and the couple who play matchmakers, while their own marriage dissolves, due to infidelities real and perceived. Jack is an interesting character study, the kind of quirky dude that Hoffman plays so very well. He appears to be a fish out of water, and yet there's a certain nobility in his steadfast desire to learn and better himself - if nothing more than because he perceives that Ryan is requiring it of him. For example, the title of the film - after meeting in mid-winter, Ryan says that she'd like to go boating some time. This refers to the romantic image of man and woman in a row boat, drifting on a tranquil lake on a warm summer's day. Jack tells her he'd like to take her, but when it gets warmer. Unfortunately he can't swim, so the concept of being in the middle of a lake in a small craft scares him. The solution: he enlists his buddy and fellow limo driver Clyde (another wonderful performance by John Ortiz), to teach him how to swim. Clyde is a true friend, who revels in Jack's courting, even while revealing to Jack that long term relationships aren't all they're cracked up to be. His attempts to wipe the mutual deeds of the past away concerning both he and his wife Lucy (an uneven performance by Daphne Rubin-Vega) are almost heartbreaking - he has forgiven her, but she can't do the same for him. Hoffman's directing debut of this stage adaptation is a mixed bag. He shows glimpses of imagery, but remains too tied down to the linear presentation of the story while lingering too long on silent shots meant to convey deep meaning. Conversely he plays too fast and loose with some of the scenes, like cutting into the bedroom where Jack and Ryan have just had their first, aborted attempt at sex. It is revealed that Ryan is psychologically damaged (which the film infers earlier, yet never delves into why) - and yet the entire scene plays as a quirky mess, having no prior setup to ground it. This is the type of film adaptation where I was wondering just how it would be presented on stage. Sure, it's a small, indie type film, but the action seems so over drawn and drawn out that you wonder how it would present over two or three acts.

- paulsandberg, Tuesday, December 13, 2011