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The Squid and the Whale
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Squid and the Whale More at IMDbPro »

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22 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

It has a mercifully short run time.

Author: acs_joel from san diego, CA
30 October 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The full page ad in the local arts & entertainment weekly exalted The Squid and the Whale as, "Marvelous...Fresh & Fierce...Exhilarating...Sharply Comical", but it is none of those things. My date and I saw the film last night, in a theater filled with sophisticated film buffs. There was an occasional chuckle and an isolated laugh, here and there, but there was mostly an uncomfortable silence throughout the film.

We all collectively squirmed in our seats, looked at one another and winced when the preteen Frank masturbated in the school library, then wiped his semen on some books on the shelf. Who would find this humorous?? It is a badly conceived scene and done in bad taste, only to be touched upon again later in the film. The homosexual, pedophile market will find this film exhilarating.

The Squid and the Whale looks as if it was written in two weeks, while high on coke or something turned in by a college sophomore, who pulled an all-nighter on the last day to write an assignment. The term, "assman" was used repeatedly, each time reminding me of a classic episode of Seinfeld. If writing is to be original, you can't go around lifting catch phrases from sitcoms.

The acting is understated throughout, with the exception of Laura Linney's occasional shriek and raised eyebrows.

The film's sudden ending was a relief.

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22 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Don't waste your time

Author: ctfilmreview from Connecticut
23 October 2005

This could have been a great movie if it had gotten out of it's own way. Instead it ended up being the vehicle for poor little Noah to rip his admittedly inadequate parents for getting divorced and ruining his sad little life. Poor Noah. Please. Maybe if we had seen what happened to Noah and his brother down the road it might have been worth it. Jeff Daniels performance was excellent as were those of Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kilne. I saw the film as part of a Key Cinema series. It received one of the worst ratings that I've seen in the past two or three years, so I'm confident that I'm not alone in panning this exercise in self-pity.

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23 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

So horrible.

Author: Marina from United States
18 June 2007

Ugh. The other reviews note that this story is based on Noah Baumbach's own story of his parent's divorce. But if it's true, does that make him the plagiarizer or the potty-mouthed serial masturbator? It's hard to imagine anyone wanting to immortalize their family with these sloppily constructed, clichéd caricatures of the sort of people you might have found in Park Slope in the 80's. The parents exhibit a reprehensible lack of concern for their kids as they finally arrive at divorce. The mother character is not expanded much beyond showing that she bore her dissatisfaction with her husband by having numerous affairs times during the course of the marriage. The father character is shown as an insecure blow-hard, affected more by his wife's professional success than by her infidelities. The children are, essentially, little versions of their parents, and are emotionally victimized by each of the parents in their (supposed) struggle to cope with their divorce. They develop disturbing habits, which are ill-addressed by the parents who are too busy wallowing in their own miseries to effectively address their children's' unspoken cries for help.

This poor character development & over-abundance of unseemly airing of personal grievance make this film feel like a student film. A BAD student film.

On the up side, Park Slope was perfectly captured & portrayed, instantly recognizable. I don't know how a big a deal that is considering that it hasn't changed all that much since.

This film was a disappointment.

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37 out of 69 people found the following review useful:

Tortuous and unpleasant entertainment

Author: acricketer from United States
12 March 2006

This is an awful film. It seems that the more pointless, introverted ( there is nothing for the audience here )and desolate a movie, the more its applauded. "If you don't get it darling, you don't understand art" What is entertaining about a bunch of very unhappy, unpleasant people being unhappy and unpleasant to each other? Clearly it has struck a chord with the intellectual crowd who recognize the types in themselves or others they know. Its 'a.. look, aren't I clever" movie, and "I must be clever to get people to pay to see this and say nice things about it (morons!)" It is self seeking and self indulgent. The acting is good. The folks are caricatures that make you despair for hope, goodness and love of your fellow man. If life is like this film portrays, pray for an alternative.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Although the Title is a bit Cryptic...The Message is Very Clear!

Author: KissEnglishPasto from Pasto, Colombia
2 August 2016

........................................................from Pasto,Colombia...Via: L.A. CA., CALI, COLOMBIA and ORLANDO, FL

For dyed in the wool fans of European cinema, The Squid and the Whale, an independent production, Grand Prize winner at the "Sundance" Film Festival, has much more in common with films from the old continent than with those huge budget Hollywood productions. IMDb lists its budget as 1.5 Million, most certainly paltry, especially when compared to the 100 to 200 million dollar behemoths that abound in LA-LA-LAND! So if the European style is to your liking, we guarantee that "Squid" will truly enchant you!

To justify my initial assertion, let's just analyze SQUID for a moment:

A) No CGI effects, No car chases or crashes, and no 100 Decibel Explosions!

B) SQUID is highly character-driven

C) SQUID is very heavy on intense, highly focused dialog

D) SQUID's characters have almost no physical contact, but engage in relentless psychological arm-wrestling!

E) SQUID resorts to NO cinematic gimmicks of any kind, whatsoever!

F) Considering that both Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney appear in SQUID, with its minuscule budget, it cannot be anything other than a TRUE labor of love!

If the above list hits some of your cinematic hot buttons… You really MUST SEE Squid!

If you are unphased…DON'T!!!!!…Simple as that!


Any comments, questions or observations, in English o en Español, are most welcome!

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The New York Intelligensia Behaving Badly

Author: (dj_bassett) from Philadelphia
17 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A family breaks apart, mainly because the father is an irredeemable prick.

Not bad, though the critics have been overrating this one -- I suspect because many of them recognize themselves in the characters. (This is the SIDEWAYS of 2005.) It's most notable for Daniels's excellent performance: he is fantastic as the selfish, narcissistic, self-pitying, pompous, cheapskate burnt-out writer. It's a caricature, but a wickedly accurate one of a certain type.

As for the rest of the movie, though, it's okay but plays it too predictable within it's mini-genre. The battle lines are too clearly drawn, we know from the start who's side we should be on. The strained metaphor of the squid and the whale is worked at dutifully, but uninterestingly. The two big music pieces in the movie come from Roger Waters-era Floyd and Lou Reed, which for a certain pretentious generation are as much totems as anything Daniels character spits out. (This could be meant ironically, but I suspect not -- it's probably more symptomatic of the movie's essential unreflectiveness.)

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Creepy parents not worth viewing

Author: vanhowe from The Great White North
14 May 2006

The acting was very good. The production was good. The story told was simply uninteresting and more off-putting than engaging. Jeff Daniels played his part so well that you just wanted to slap the creep. The mother character is even more reprehensible. These are people I would rather not know let alone invite into my living room. The only redeeming factor of this film is that it may be gratifying to parents watching it that are not screwing up their children as much as the parents in this movie were. If you have teenagers, definitely do not rent this movie. While some R rated movies can be watched by older teenagers with your supervision, this is definitely not one of them!

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Sensitive Family and Coming to Age Drama

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
20 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In1986, In Brooklyn, New York, the dysfunctional family of pseudo intellectuals composed by the university professor Bernard (Jeff Daniels) and the prominent writer Joan (Laura Linney) split. Bernard is a selfish, cheap and jealous decadent writer that rationalizes every attitude in his family and life and does not accept "philistines" - people that do not read books or watch movies, while the unfaithful Joan is growing as a writer and has no problems with "philistines". Their sons, the teenager Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and the boy Frank (Owen Kline), feel the separation and take side: Walt stays with Bernard, and Frank with Joan, and both are affected with abnormal behaviors. Frank drinks booze and smears with sperm the books in the library and a locker in the dress room of his school. The messed-up and insecure Walt uses Roger Water's song "Hey You" in a festival as if it was of his own, and breaks with his girlfriend Sophie (Halley Feiffer). Meanwhile Joan has an affair with Frank's tennis teacher Ivan (William Baldwyn) and Bernard with his student Lili (Anna Paquin).

This little family and coming to age drama is a sensitive story, apparently based on the self-biography of the director and writer Noah Baumbach. The story is very well acted and develops a phase of separation of the couple Bernard and Joan and its effects in their sons Walt and Frank. The moment of the conclusion is pretentious and deceptive, with Walt in the American Museum of Natural History recalling a good – or maybe the best - moment of his life looking at a giant squid fighting a whale displayed in the museum. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "A Lula e a Baleia" ("The Squid and the Whale")

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant and Awkward and Everything in Between

Author: thewalrus8 from Canada
17 September 2006

Not being a child from a product of divorce, after seeing this movie I can appreciate the push and pull that manifests from divorce. Now, I am positive that not all broken homes are this broken, but Noah Baumbauch creates an environment that makes you squirm and want to cry all at the same time. All of the performances are near perfection and are executed with utmost conviction. I find that Jeff Daniels is one of those actors who get better with every movie he does. He is completely unlikeable in this movie yet you feel for him and you want him to get it together. Very few actors can play a prick and yet you are rooting for him and there are a few points in the film where you even buy into his bullshit as much as his oldest son (played by Jesse Eisenberg) does. The Squid and The Whale is not the most uplifting of fare, but it is a must view for anybody who appreciates film, not movies, film.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Very real learning experience, but ultimately boring

Author: siderite from Romania
13 July 2006

This movie is a good film, that's for sure. The actors perform brilliantly and the script is original and touching. However, all this is boring.

I guess people with an interest in the social aspect of one's life will find this very nice and good. For the parents (and children) who are on the same path as the character, should they choose to really understand the movie, it will be a learning experience that will save them from a lot of pain and anguish.

OK, the guy is a cowardly hypocrite that hides behind his intellectual aura tons of frustration and, surely enough, stupidity. The woman leaves a life of discomfort and maybe even fear, but lacks the courage to do anything about it. She cheats on the husband then leaves clues to it, so that the responsibility of the divorce would fall on him. The sons pick sides based on age, both mimicking behaviour that they don't understand yet, and thus making fools of themselves. Very weird and socially tense situations, but that's it. After the first half an hour you know everything there is to know, only the awkward situations remain, in a hostile, not humorous manner.

The ending is as devoid of resolution as the entire content. The problems are there, you know what, where, when and how, but there is no solution. In the end, the film is nothing but a portrait, you either like it or you don't.

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