The Squid and the Whale (2005) - Comedy, Drama

Hohum Score



Follows two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.

IMDB: 7.3
Director: Noah Baumbach
Stars: Owen Kline, Jeff Daniels
Length: 81 Minutes
PG Rating: R
Reviews: 46 out of 253 found boring (18.18%)

One-line Reviews (134)

This movie is about as enjoyable as any abridged parade of upper middle class dysfunction can be.

It feels like a genuine coming of age movie, and watching it I felt every moment whether in the form of laughing, cringing, or understanding.

So too often are we forced to endure cookie- cutter family dramas whether it's on the big screen or the small screen that it can be something of a miracle that a story as rich and downright enjoyable as The Squid and the Whale manages to elbow its way to the front of the queue.

A bearded Jeff Daniels and plain Laury Linney give balanced readings of their parts as a pretentious writing teacher whose days of published success fade while his wife gets a book contract and her novel is excerpted in "The New Yorker.

Consequently all their interaction seems contrived, adding to their isolation from him.

Their mother (Laura Linney-one of the best actresses working in mainstream and on the edge of mainstream, fare) Joan has been philandering with more than a few men over the prior several years, although given her husband's raging egomania, it is not particularly shocking.

Another sign of a masterful filmmaker like Noah Baumbach, who hides the obvious whilst entertaining with other interesting subjects.

"The Squid and the Whale" is an extremely pretentious film with a very stilted script and a very disappointing performance from all of the cast except for Owen Kline.

The 70's were a time of liberation, but throw in two parents who actually make a living at free thinking, and are also trying to win the affection of their young boy after a divorce, that's where the entertaining situations in this movie come from.

If this is how Baumbach sees American Independent cinema, as a crass; annoying and uninteresting orgy of self indulgence and repetitive statements playing out under faux-drama, then I want no part of it.

Some scenes in the middle also seem a bit too rushed and slightly predictable.

While each has their vices, Baumbach embeds his own personal feelings and ties to these people within the script to the point that they feel genuinely human—and this is perhaps the movie's biggest selling point brought into clear focus by the performances given by a surprisingly intense Daniels, a captivating Linney, the always engaging Eisenberg and a hilariously concise break- out outing for young Owen Kline.

On the sidelines are a couple of surprisingly effective performances - William Baldwin (yes, that Billy Baldwin) tweaking his own superficial stereotype as a local tennis pro who plays an unexpected role with the Berkmans, and Anna Paquin – who ironically played Daniels's daughter in the family film, "Fly Away Home" – as a coquettish coed who unwisely moves into an extra room in Bernard's apartment.

Gripping realistic account of divorce and its consequences; it's also occasionally comical .

All in all, a basically serious but really funny comedy of manners, acid but slightly sweetened by a pinch of empathy, on what undermines married and family life, namely selfishness, conceit, thoughtlessness, to put it briefly and to paraphrase Kundera, the unbearable lightness of beings supposed to be the creme de la creme of intellectual élite.

Owen Kline is especially compelling as the younger, and the reactions he is called upon to portray at times are as well-acted as they are repulsive.

It is clearly evident why this film did get Baumbach an Oscar nomination in writing, however, as the film is one of the least contrived and most realistic movies about the breakdown of a family I have ever seen.

Pointless .

The children experience confusion and angst over their parents' oddities, and begin to retrace their beginnings in order to better cope with the oppressive present and daunting future prospects.

Despite a playful and cheery exterior, Frank's scenes of inner turmoil are amongst the hardest to watch and the most confusing for viewers.

Jeff Daniels character in this movie is so intense and i didn't feel for him much until he had a conversation with his ex wife (laura linney) about a conversation he had with his dad.

Their two sons Walt who is 16 and Frank 12 are left with their confusing and conflicting feelings.

and that's how exciting it gets!

How are we expected to connect with any character if they are so self-indulgent and egotistical?

This is one of those movies that is so full of itself and pretentious waste, it fails to achieve anything.

The parallel between the fighting parents and the squid and the whale (for which the title derives) was an interesting and very thought-compelling one, to the point where I started to wonder who exactly was the squid, and who the whale (I've come to the conclusion that the father is the squid and the mother is the whale, although this might certainly be open to interpretation).

This was an enjoyable drama that clearly shows the pain of jealousy and the resulting separation and what is does to the children.

Very real learning experience, but ultimately boring .

Boring, predictable, and just crass.

Under stress people frequently reveal unknown or unexpected personality traits and in the course of "The Squid and the Whale" all the family members learn a lot new about each other.

She is always worth watching and she did not disappoint in this film.

Visually powerful in a derivative cinema verite manner, this film is also self-indulgent and cliché-driven in a uniquely irritating way.

Surprisingly, this is one of those films that actually feel too truncated at only 88 minutes, and consequently, there are lapses in the film that make it feel more like a series of episodes than a story that has a point to convey, especially as the ending feels abrupt and confusing.

If this film's final scene was of the four Berkman's going for a hot air balloon ride over the Catskills, and the balloon crashing in flames into the mountains with no survivors, then I just might have walked out of the theater with a smile on my face.

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.

Their children represent mixtures of themselves, caught in the middle between two often unbearable extremes.

Such middle class, highly educated people should have been much more aware of the pitfalls of divorce but chose to close their eyes for their own selfish reasons -pride, boredom, casual lust, middle aged disappointment.

I guess if you have been through a divorce as a parent or child, this film may mean a bit more, otherwise, it is depressing, slow moving, and pretty disgusting whereas Character morality is concerned.

Even though it runs at a terse 88 minutes, "The Squid and the Whale" is a personal and engrossing look at an American family in Brooklyn during the 1980s.

He seems to find the worst films in the world and cherishes them while he doesn't like the best made, most entertaining, or otherwise brilliant movies.

If you can make it past that, "The Squid and the Whale" becomes a thoroughly engaging, entertaining, and at times funny experience.

The unique characters are enjoyable to watch and feel real.

Jesse Eisenberg is the quintessential pretentious nerd – I can see why he was cast in Network.

Brilliant portrait of the slow disintegration of an upper middle-class New York City family in the 1980s, as the parents divorce, and their two sons are caught in the middle, being slowly pulled down by the nightmare of their family decaying.

The Squid and the Whale is a coming of age story that has consistency and clear messages.

This is the worst movie I have ever seen.

The rousing performance is both brave and fresh; I felt as if I had seen a whole new dynamic to Daniels' abilities.

I HIGHLY recommend it.

Consistently hateful and NYT/NPR predictable.

It's hard to watch, and yet it's so engaging.

As I said, The Squid And The Whale is slowly paced.

The script is very gripping and realistic.

Of course, he takes up with Linney to make this film even more unbearable.

The ending is formulaic.

Frank is a much more rebellious younger child who listens to his mom more and feels like a real, unpredictable child (if a very sexually minded one for how young he looked).

)" It is self seeking and self indulgent.

A convincing and engaging script makes for a wonderfully bleak and witty film about a family breakdown .

A short coming of age story that earns its emotional investment .

However, all this is boring.

On an overall scale, The Squid and the Whale is crafted with extensive personal investment which is evident in the final print and happens to be as enjoyable as it is biting, thanks to skillful writing & superb direction from Baumbach as he stuffs every painful moment of his semi-autobiographical tale with clever wit to make its familial themes more accessible & relatable to the viewers without exposing them to the grimness of failed relationships.

Stunning portrait of a family in crisis .

It seems that the more pointless, introverted ( there is nothing for the audience here )and desolate a movie, the more its applauded.

Pointless exercise in neurosis .

It's these moments that really deliver the laughs because the father, played impeccably by Jeff Daniels, is so pretentious and pompous that hearing his words come out of his son is priceless.

Overall I gave the movie a 6 -- excellent acting with little to no storyline.

A Deep and Compelling Experience.

The Squid and the Whale is one of the best films of 2005, I highly recommend it.

The filmmaking isn't anything special, but the story by Baumbach is a reasonably entertaining one, which only runs approximately 82 minutes, anyway.

yawn .

Both characters are fascinating psychological studies.

Generally, this would make for a very boring Lifetime film staring Tori Spelling but what Baumbach did was completely unexpected.

The intellectually driven though emotionally isolated couple decides on a contrived joint-custody arrangement where the two boys shuttle back and forth between the family homestead in Park Slope and the rundown apartment the father takes across town.

This film was entertaining to watch.

After seeing ''The Squid and the Whale'' I walked out of the theater with that filled up sort of feeling.

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.

It's style was appealing to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Just as an aside, I was pleasantly surprised when the end credits rolled that the beautiful titles I'd been noticing were designed by Torontonian Leanne Shapton, who was art director at Saturday Night magazine for a few of its most visually exciting years (circa 2000-2001).

Great casting, disappointing and predictable .

This movie went nowhere.

As for the rest of the movie, though, it's okay but plays it too predictable within it's mini-genre.

Baumbach has nothing else to offer bar a statement, not a study, but a statement that a parental divorce unloads feelings of confusion onto the children involved in the marriage.

They set the standard for juvenile acting-unsentimental, intelligent, and fascinating.

Unfortunately, while keeping the length of the film to a minimum and editing out all but the most important details keeps the film from being excruciating, it is still terribly slow.

I started cutting mosaic tiles in the middle of the movie because it was so boring and predictable.

The movie is absorbing and compelling.

It was a waste of my time.

Squid and the Whale just makes you feel empty.

It could be self-indulgent, cutesy, pretentious, or just plain annoying.

Cliché and overdone.

The writer/director is self-indulgent and sloppily sentimental to a breath-taking degree.

It is a pointless, meandering depiction of self-destructive and fairly uninteresting people.

This is a deeply sad film but it shows that by letting its story and characters do the talking rather than the musical cues and the predictable events.

Regardless, this is a solid picture, and one that captures many ambitious themes and ideas, galvanized by a fascinating series of characters.

Don't waste your time .

Most people will leave the theater thinking that the ending is not interesting enough.

Jeff Daniels portrait of a spiritually empty narcissist of an intellectual writer is merciless and spot on.

No doubt the real Bernard is proud of his son, who has written and directed and evocative account of growing up in a divided family.

It was predictable and just boring with a crass overtone.

The Squid is a tragic and sad story, but at the same time it is just so funny and engaging.

As much-a monstrosity as a whale is large, as preening and repetitive dwelling takes centre stage.

A name-dropping elitist whose every sentence drips with pretentious commentary and barely disguised contempt for the unwashed masses, Berkman clearly sees himself as the last bastion in a war against all the no-nothing "Philistines" who have come to ravage and ruin the culture.

He's an extremely self-indulgent intellectual, who values intelligence and culture.

That's probably because director wanted to keep this depressing, monotone, everyday life tone in it.

The barrage of emotion and true human involvement with the story is stunning as well.

The characters are unusually strange and are somehow engaging enough to make the movie above-average.

The story told was simply uninteresting and more off-putting than engaging.

It makes a black man long for the means streets of South Central LA where death comes quickly in a blaze of glory instead of the slow, painful suffocation of the pathetic souls represented in this movie.

In the end, the film, while not bad, turned out to be trite and almost self-indulgent on Baumbachs part.

I identified with much of what the teens in this movie are going through and my sympathies definitely sided with them against their self-involved and self-indulgent parents.

who desperately tries to seek the approval of his father all the while following an incredibly predictable journey of adolescent self-discovery.

If there have at all been exceptions to the rule over the last few years, films that have minutely taken on these traits but revolved something interesting and engaging around them, then it would have been with later offerings such as 2006's Snow Cake and the following year's Lars and the Real Girl.

This emotional, yet surprisingly entertaining indie film is among the best of its kind.

In the case of Walt, if ever there was to be a prequel to 2000's American Psycho in which Patrick Bateman's younger years were to be explored, get this guy in to channel his snappy dialogues; musical indulgences and his mannerisms with which he communicates with the opposite sex.

This is first-rate movie making from a young artist with an exciting future.

Frank, in imitating his father's worst traits, when it is discovered that a song he'd written was in fact a song by Pink Floyd and in a Ted Bundy style argues that "it was as if he had written it so it was his by appropriation" exposes him for the empty snob he is on the inside.

The Squid and the Whale evokes similar feelings of uneasy humour and dialogue that make watching the film an uncomfortable, yet intriguing experience.

Self-indulgent waste.

I really enjoyed the clip and think it is worth watching if you have only seen the film version and are a fan.

Eisenberg possesses the intense, intelligent charisma of James McAvoy and Brando.

Despite the oddities, The Squid and the Whale is worth watching for those willing to put their minds to work even after the credits roll.

Squirmy sometimes outweighs funny in this coming of age-cum-divorce comedy .

Noah Baumbach's breakthrough feature is a smartly written, aptly directed & brilliantly performed indie that cleverly combines the elements of drama & comedy into one gripping story, is filled with authentic, fully-drawn characters, and offers an honest take on divorce & how it affects everyone who is part of the family.

the industry does this: as a reward to my boredom and contributing towards an informative situation whilst co habitating amongst a gay stranger,(again)...

But as so often happens in a film she is part of, Anna Paquin steals the entire show as Lili, a student part of one of Daniels' classes who eventually moves in with him, adding to the confusing situation the boys find themselves in.

But perhaps more importantly, her character also unknowingly exhibits a form of habitual sensuality, thus creating confusion within her children, causing Walt to pull away in shameful disgust and intriguing Frank to further exercise his pre-adolescent officiousness.

Ho-hum, and what in the world was the usually brilliant Wes Anderson thinking of in lending his name to this tawdry cartoon?

Deeply Entertaining .

I left the theater feeling mentally, visually and emotionally fulfilled and uplifted.

Rich and downright enjoyable.

Be prepared to be bored to death .

A truly bland character.

Laura Linney is equally stunning as his wife, while Owen Kline(Kevin's son) brings an incredible range to a performance by such a young actor.

I'm pretty sure William Baldwin's character is intended to be both bland and annoying.

This is simply another case of the movie intelligentsia praising a film that has no plot and just meanders.