Dave's Rating:


Floating sweetly along...

Who's In It: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan, John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega

The Basics: Jack (Hoffman) is a limo driver with some self esteem and social awkwardness issues. But a blind date with the similarly bashful Connie (Ryan) gives him a glimpse into a nicer future where he cooks for her and accompanies her on a boat ride. So he takes swimming lessons from fellow limo driver Clyde (Ortiz), learns to cook from a guy that used to have adulterous sex with Clyde's wife Lucy (Rubin-Vega) and, inspired by all this forward momentum, also decides to apply for a better job with the Mass Transit Authority. There are hurdles, like a disastrous dinner party that rivals the one in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, but you know Jack's not going to give up until he makes that boat ride happen.

What's The Deal: This is the kind of decent, goodhearted movie about uncool people that never sounds as nice as it actually is when you're trying to recommend that someone else see it. Because on paper you're asking people to watch a film about nobodies whose lives are not cinematic at all. Add to that the horrible collective reputation that quirky indie romances have constructed for themselves by being oddball for the sake of standing out in the arthouse crowd. But this movie is gently funny instead of witty and cruel and full of weird, tense, everyday-type danger that could happen to anyone with more than one loose-cannon friend (and that's pretty much everybody). It also contains just the right amount of wince-inducing social trauma, adding more barbed wire to the love gauntlet that Jack has to cross. By the end of it, you're rooting for a guy you'd probably ignore in real life.

The Secret Reason For Hoffman's Wearing-A-Hat-To-Award-Shows Phase From Not So Long Ago: His character, Jack, is really into reggae and uses it as a confidence building tool because he believes it stresses "a positive vibe." He also has some unfortunate-looking dreadlocks. Now, imagine Hoffman having to explain why his wispy, white-blond baby-hair is in sad little dreadlocks everywhere he goes. In fact, Jack keeps the hat on a lot of the time in the movie, too. So it's everyone, both real and fictional, who finds them embarrassing.

Don't Get Up And Go To the Bathroom During: The climactic dinner party scene. Because every low-key moment that comes before gets set aside for a showdown/throwdown/meltdown where the food goes wrong, the characters lose their sanity on drugs, relationships are broken and it actually makes you afraid for everyone's welfare. It's the kind of moment where, if it happened to you in real life, your first thought would be, "Sorry, I have to leave dinner now and go make all new friends."

Hipster Runoff-Approved Score B:y Grizzly Bear with extra songs by Goldfrapp, Fleet Foxes and Cat Power


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