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Overall Rating
4.05

Awesome40%
Worth A Look: 38.46%
Average: 13.85%
Pretty Bad: 1.54%
Total Crap: 6.15%

7 reviews, 23 user ratings


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Squid and the Whale, The
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by Laura Kyle

"So new and refreshing, you can't help but rejoice in all its idosyncracies."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL: Easily one of the most entertaining flicks I've seen all year, The Squid and the Whale is ceaselessly original, eccentric, and funny.

Noah Baumbach's account of a dysfunctional family, in particular the effects of joint custody on two brothers, is so weird, you just know it's not the kind of stuff you could ever make up. And indeed, The Squid and the Whale is Baumbach's autobiography of a, to say the least, awkward, adolescence.

Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels are just brilliant as the newly separated couple, Joan and Bernard, parents of Frank (Owen Kline -- yes, Kevin's son), the youngest boy, and teenager Walt (Jesse Eisenberg). Joan and Bernard compete as parents, and professional writers, and their kids take sides -- Owen gravitating toward his mother, a rising star author,while Walt gallantly defends his father, a formerly successful writer who can't get anything published.

If nothing seems too remarkeable about this broken home slice of life, well, I wouldn't make any judgements too quick, because The Squid and the Whale is delightfully unpredictable and unexpected, with a really unique sense of humor, about some very biting realities nonetheless.

In the end, it's Walt's story -- he struggles to find his own, personal rhythm in life, doing impressions of the father he idolizes, without even realizing it. And Frank acts out in an increasingly odd, though strangely self-assured fashion, taking up a pretty substantial drinking habit and leaving his mark around the school (you'll just have to watch the film to find out what I mean by that last part...).

The comedy largely arises from the often, I want to say, nutty, behaviors and conversations of the characters -- a mother who isn't a fan of discretion when telling her sons about her personal life and doesn't seem to have an ounce of interest in their father, the man she married (perhaps too hastily), a father who's as self-absorbed as he is unaware of the fact that he's self-absorbed, and their two confused boys who must cope with living in their two different worlds,

The Squid and the Whale is such a wild, novel approach to its sensitive subject matter and the pitch-perfect performances, from each cast member (of special note are the inspired performances by both its youngest stars), make it impossible to not take a long, good look at it and ponder its total originality.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11227&reviewer=369
originally posted: 10/28/05 18:00:07
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Chicago Film Festival For more in the 2005 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2005 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2005 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/01/10 User Name A well-acted look at the effect divorce has on families. 4 stars
4/11/10 brian All characters unlikeable. Soundtrack wildly intrusive. Fingernails on chalkboard. 2 stars
3/08/10 Samantha Pruitt very weird movie, i'm not sure how i feel about it 3 stars
1/29/09 mo914 I LOVE OWEN KLINE 5 stars
1/27/09 Shaun Wallner Wonderful story. 5 stars
1/23/08 LJ the sperm-smearing scenes are beyond distasteful- *puke* 1 stars
11/02/06 skk Fabulous, Moving... Spot On 5 stars
9/28/06 ES convoluted, too short & no real closure at the end, interesting at times, but unexceptional 3 stars
8/17/06 Mary Beth character study; enjoyable to watch things fall to hell 5 stars
5/31/06 Indrid Cold Funny, engaging and whip-smart. Unfortunately, it's also pointless. 4 stars
4/19/06 Jung Texican Hilarious AND painful examination of the worst broken family behavior 4 stars
4/03/06 Monday Morning Tremendously enjoyable -- "understated elegance" 5 stars
3/30/06 Phil M. Aficionado The performances take it above average; otherwise, nothing special 4 stars
1/19/06 jcjs so fine...yummy...fun...real...sad...funny...clever...great acting...delightful...clever 5 stars
12/31/05 Norman Acting was supurb by the four main charactors,and found all the leads interesting.i 4 stars
12/10/05 T michol I wasted $16 1 stars
12/01/05 letty too close to home! Great performances especially by the young actors. 5 stars
11/24/05 jack totally overrated 1 stars
10/18/05 Sheila Good performances 5 stars
10/11/05 mikeo@prodigy.net Beautifully crafted drama based too much on the pain of divorce, particularly for children. 4 stars
10/10/05 Nic Oatridge Well directed, but directionless storyline and no likeable characters 3 stars
9/29/05 E. Northam An intelligent & literate screenplay; well-acted; the film "Thumbsucker" failed to be. 4 stars
9/15/05 Mike Humt WTF is this? 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  05-Oct-2005 (R)
  DVD: 21-Mar-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  13-Apr-2006



[trailer] Trailer


Directed by
  Noah Baumbach

Written by
  Noah Baumbach

Cast
  Jeff Daniels
  Laura Linney
  Jesse Eisenberg
  Owen Kline
  Billy Baldwin
  Anna Paquin



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