Jack (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a shy limousine driver who lives with and works for his uncle. His best friend and co-worker Clyde (John Ortiz) and Clyde's wife Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega) set up a dinner date at their house for him to meet Lucy's new co-worker, Connie (Amy Ryan) who has some minor intimacy issues of her own. As Jack and Connie get to know each other, he sets his sights on learning to swim so he can take her boating when summer comes. With Clyde eager to help him learn, they begin swimming lessons. Jack decides that summer is too far away to wait for a date with Connie. He decides that a nice dinner would be a good place to start. When Connie says that no one has ever cooked a meal for her, Jack decides that he wants to be the chef and cook for her. This adds another set of lessons to be learned as Jack does not know how to cook. Clyde sets Jack up with a chef friend of Lucy's to learn the culinary art form. As Jack strives to perfect swimming and cooking, he begins to get a look behind the veil of the marriage of his friends, which is straining under the weight of mutual occasional infidelities. As Jack and Connie grow closer, the troubles of his friends' marriage become more apparent, and Jack grows in confidence and skill not just aquatically and in culinary arts, but in relating to Connie as well. The film's last scene, with Clyde watching Jack and Connie going off happily, suggests that in fact Clyde wanted Connie himself - which would explain why he helped Jack's courting of her but on several occasions also tried to sabotage it.Philip Seymour Hoffman as Jack
Amy Ryan as Connie
John Ortiz as Clyde
Daphne Rubin-Vega as Lucy
Thomas McCarthy as Dr. Bob
Salvatore Inzerillo as Cannoli
Richard Petrocelli as Uncle Frank
Lola Glaudini as Italian Woman
Stephen Adly Guirgis as MTA worker
Elizabeth Rodriguez as Waldorf Event Assistant
Isaac Schinazi as Pastry Chef
Mason Pettit as Drunk Man on Subway
The companies involved in making, producing, and distributing the movie were Overture Films, Big Beach Films, Cooper's Town Productions, Labyrinth Theater Company, Olfactory Productions, Relativity Media, and Anchor Bay Entertainment. Overture Films (known for The Men Who Stare at Goats and Law Abiding Citizen) and Big Beach Films (known for Little Miss Sunshine and Away We Go) co-financed the film and also took part in producing and distributing. The film's producers were Peter Saraf and Marc Turtletaub of Big Beach Films, Beth O'Neil of Olfactory Productions and Emily Ziff of Cooper's Town Productions. In addition to directing and acting, Hoffman acted as one of the two executive producers with the other being costar John Ortiz.
Pre-production and development for the film took place in January 2009. Filming took place in February 2009 in New York. The Clinton Diner of Maspeth, Queens in New York City is a featured location in the film. Post-production took place in October 2009 and the film was completed in March 2010.
The film premiered on January 23, 2010 at the 26th Sundance Film Festival. It was later distributed by Overture Films and Relativity Media and it was released on four screens in New York City and Los Angeles on September 17, 2010. It opened to $28,916 for a $7,229 per screen average. Later in September and October the film expanded reaching a maximum of 90 screens. The film's domestic theatrical run came to an end in December 2010. The domestic gross totaled $541,992. The film was later released on DVD on January 18, 2011.
Outside of the U.S, the film was featured in a number of foreign film festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival, the Torino Film Festival, the Tokyo International Film Festival, and the Dubai International Film Festival. The film was also released in a few countries including Canada, France, Germany. The film has grossed $77,578 so far overseas, bringing its current global total gross to $619,570. It was then released in the United Kingdom in November 2011.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating 68% based on 105 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "It's made the journey from stage to screen somewhat worse for wear, but Jack Goes Boating remains a sensitive, well-acted character study." On Metacritic the film has a score of 64 out of 100 based on 27 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
It was especially noted for the performances of the four leading actors, and was compared favorably with similar romantic films from the 1950s, such as Marty (1955). Simon Hattenstone of The Guardian also called the film "refreshing" as it showed Hoffman playing for a change "a regular dysfunctional guy rather than a freaky dysfunctional guy".
Jack Goes Boating was nominated for four major awards in 2010. For his performance as Clyde, John Ortiz was nominated for a Gotham Award in the category of Best Breakthrough Actor. The award went to Ronald Bronstein for his performance in Daddy Longlegs. The film was also nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards. John Ortiz was again nominated for his performance in the Best Supporting Male category but lost to John Hawkes in Winter's Bone. Daphne Rubin-Vega was also nominated for her performance as Lucy in the Best Supporting Female category but lost to Dale Dickey in Winter's Bone. Robert Glaudini was nominated in the Best First Screenplay category but lost to Lena Dunham for her screenplay Tiny Furniture.
A soundtrack album for the film featuring the following songs is available from Lakeshore Records.