Jack the Dog

Director: Bobby Roth
Screenwriters: Bobby Roth

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


Seasoned independent filmmaker Bobby Roth (Heartbreakers, Keeper of the City) returns to his roots with an impressively realized dramatic depiction of a man's struggle to mature. If that seems an overly explored theme to some viewers, Jack the Dog is such a wonderfully resonant complex of feelings, humor, and insight that it translates potential cliché into a thoroughly engrossing film. The image of a cad, a womanizer, a rogue—whatever the language—is disparaging. Yet it's exactly these archetypal representations and situations that Jack the Dog refuses to succumb to. The film never employs the simplistic "men are animals; let's wait for the heartfelt transformation" scenario which usually shapes films of this genre.

Jack the Dog is first and foremost one of the most remarkably honest films you're ever likely to see. It expresses in intensely real terms the urges and ambitions of a man who is fully aware of his sexual attractiveness and takes full advantage of it. But this depiction of a thirtyish professional takes a turn when, finally married and the father of a son, Jack must face up to the responsibilities of his first real relationship.

Roth engages us with sophisticated and insightful storytelling that humanizes the inherent conflicts of the male ego without justifying its self-interest. Stylistically clean and straightforward, Roth's filmmaking is seamless; it artfully creates a sense of recognition and perhaps even inspires personal reflection. Nestor Carbonell's outstanding performance is central to any appreciation of this work's memorable presence and atmosphere. Imbued with the kind of power that only personal filmmaking allows, Jack the Dog is passionately artistic.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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