2010-10-22 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

MovieScope

‘Jack Goes Boating’ – ‘Marty’ Goes Modern
By Robert Snyder

Actor Ernest Borgnine won an Oscar in 1955 for his sweet portrayal of a lonely butcher who finds love in “Marty.”

Half a century later, Philip Seymour Hoffman is shuffling down the same route as shlubby limo driver Jack, who also seeks romance in a world that wants him buried in his basement apartment.

Hoffman reprises his role, but takes on directing chores in the film version of “Jack Goes Boating,” based on the Bob Glaudini play. Also on screen from the stage are John Ortiz as his buddy, Clyde, and Daphne Rubin-Vega as Clyde’s wife, Lucy. The new acting element is Amy Ryan, playing Connie, the somewhat strange girl who’s destined to deliver Jack from his doldrums.

Some of her strangeness comes in the form of demands, which strangely enough make Jack a better man: She wants him to cook her a gourmet dinner and take her boating in Central Park. Jack’s cuisine is limited to what he can keep warm on a hot plate. Boating is sunk because he can’t swim. But he rises to the occasion and surmonts both challenges.

His self-education is the essence of the story. That, and the simmering and finally full-blown destruction of the Clyde-Lucy marriage, is a wakeup call to Jack who put it on a pedestal of conjugal perfection.

A minor film, but major success for a first-time director, “Jack Goes Boating” is about how raising the bar even a little can make life worth living. As in “Marty,” the lonely and ignored sometimes make out better than the bigshots.

The final party scene, where Jack serves his much-appreciated meal, is an Albeesque social disaster that must have played well onstage. The fireworks are captured here to Director Hoffman’s credit.

Check out “Jack Goes Boating” and see a great actor chart a new course in his career.

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