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Preview review: With 'Jack Goes Boating,' Philip Seymour Hoffman finds himself in new waters

July 9, 2010 |  7:27 pm

Jackgoes Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman has long had success as an actor -- but does he have the chops behind the camera as well?

We got our first glimpse of Seymour Hoffman's directorial debut, "Jack Goes Boating," on Friday when the trailer hit the Web. The film is about two New York City limo drivers, buddies Jack (Hoffman) and Clyde (John Ortiz). Noticing Jack's discomfort around women, Clyde's wife Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega, who played Mimi in the original Broadway production of "Rent") sets him up with her friend Connie (Amy Ryan). The film follows Jack's evolving relationship with Connie, which, at least from the trailer, seems to progress slowly and sometimes painfully.

The movie has been adapted from an off-Broadway production that Hoffman and two of his co-stars (Ortiz and Rubin-Vega) all starred in a few years ago. The quirky story seems like a difficult task for any director, let alone a first timer.

In the trailer, we see Jack's troubling attempt to learn how to swim so he can take his love interest boating, per her request. Their relationship seems to stall repeatedly -- at one point in the trailer, Connie apologetically rejects Jack's attempt to sleep with her.

"I'm sorry. I want to. I even imagined it with you. It was a pitch black night. We were in a spaceship flying through super space."

It's offbeat comments like this that make us worry that the film might be a bit too indulgent in its quirkiness, and we can't yet tell whether Jack and Connie's relationship will ultimately say something interesting about the yearning for love.

But Hoffman seems comfortable in these shoes, again nailing the type of guy who is socially awkward but still lovable, whose life would be made right if he could just find a woman to love him.

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Ryan star in "Jack Goes Boating." Credit: Overture Films.