User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 291 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 65 out of 291
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  1. DeirdreB.
    Jun 20, 2006
    10
    I have watched all the commentaries on this movie, many of the reviews, even listened to the director/writer talking about the movie--and his love of psychology.[***SPOILERS***] Does anybody else GET that this movie is about the effects of pathological narcissism on a family? People who have narcisstic parents go through this nightmare of splitting, improper boundaries, and nighmarish I have watched all the commentaries on this movie, many of the reviews, even listened to the director/writer talking about the movie--and his love of psychology.[***SPOILERS***] Does anybody else GET that this movie is about the effects of pathological narcissism on a family? People who have narcisstic parents go through this nightmare of splitting, improper boundaries, and nighmarish selfishness ALL THE TIME--whether the parents stay together or not. The movie portays the anguish of the experience of the disorder in a parent--the overvaluation/devaluation funhouse--the dad would be diagnosed as Narcisstic Personality Proper, probably with overt borderline functioning. The son APPEARS to be narcisstically injured from an early age...to attempt to rescue the healthy, dependant parts of a person from the rigid, maladaptive narcissitic defense mechanisms is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT, as you can kind of see from the narcissism of the dad. When I say the film, I thought the director had purposely and knowledgeably made an objects-relation film about pathological narcissism in a family....so many people have narcissistic parents, that this movie just makes you cry for all of us who do...the people who DON'T get it are those who probably have healthy parents with good self-esteem--and though they are clueless, THEY are the lucky ones. Great film--those of us who GET it probably lived it. Pathological narcissism feeds down through families--this is an excellent rendition of the damaged lives it leaves to carry on this painful personality disorder. Does Baumbach consciously realize what he experienced and wrote about? Expand
  2. ZakT.
    Jan 1, 2006
    10
    Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney are excellent in their roles as self involved parents and all of the characters are written very realistically.
  3. Dre
    Jan 22, 2006
    10
    Best film of the year.
  4. Jared
    Oct 20, 2005
    10
    This is a phenomenal movie. The characters are supposed to be flawed and we are supposed to be disgusted by both the mother and father's behavior, especially the latter's. It is the story of a family breaking apart due to selfishness and self-indulgence and the devastating effect that has on the children. At the same time the movie doesn't just leave things in black and This is a phenomenal movie. The characters are supposed to be flawed and we are supposed to be disgusted by both the mother and father's behavior, especially the latter's. It is the story of a family breaking apart due to selfishness and self-indulgence and the devastating effect that has on the children. At the same time the movie doesn't just leave things in black and white and even inviteds us to sympathize with the father and mother. Those who reviewed this beforehand need to learn that not all characters in movies are supposed to be perfect and it is this very imperfection that is so damaging to the children of such a marriage but which allows us to identify with them. Watch some good movies and you'll see that there are lots of complex characters out there and in the real world as well. Expand
  5. FrankB.
    Jan 1, 2006
    10
    Thoughtfull, rigorous, funny and sad. Great acting with story the dares not wrap everything up perfectly neatly.
  6. EvanS.
    Apr 15, 2006
    10
    To all those people who rated this movie poorly, um, you're idiots. Yes, it's painful to watch this film and that's point because the subject of this film is, um, tough and raw. Divorce is devastating, especially for a teenager and the fact that Noah Baumbach infuses so much subversive humor (like Jeff Daniel's taking his son to see "Blue Velvet") is miraculous. This To all those people who rated this movie poorly, um, you're idiots. Yes, it's painful to watch this film and that's point because the subject of this film is, um, tough and raw. Divorce is devastating, especially for a teenager and the fact that Noah Baumbach infuses so much subversive humor (like Jeff Daniel's taking his son to see "Blue Velvet") is miraculous. This is the first American film I've seen that's able to effectively skewer our divorce culture and show the real emotional fallout without blinking. Expand
  7. kevin
    May 12, 2006
    10
    This movie is incredible. fred b. is an idiot. things were resolved at the end of this film, you just had to pay attention to symbolism. [***SPOILER***] when walt is in his therapist's office he said he was always scared of the squid and the whale fighting and had to watch with his hands over his eyes. the squid and the whale symbolize his parents, and walt going to watch the squid This movie is incredible. fred b. is an idiot. things were resolved at the end of this film, you just had to pay attention to symbolism. [***SPOILER***] when walt is in his therapist's office he said he was always scared of the squid and the whale fighting and had to watch with his hands over his eyes. the squid and the whale symbolize his parents, and walt going to watch the squid and the whale at the end symbolizes him coming to terms with his parent's divorce because he is no longer afraid to watch the squid and the whale (AKA his parents) fight anymore. Expand
  8. jimr.
    Oct 16, 2005
    10
    Loved those darn characters.specially that wacky tennis pro. I'd give it an 11 if I could.
  9. eleanorj
    Oct 23, 2005
    10
    Amazing film. hilarious and heartbreaking. best acting perfomances by JD and LL. rich characters - wanted to see more.
  10. JohnM.
    Dec 7, 2005
    10
    One of my favorite films of the year. Baumbach's brilliantly written characters, every single one with devastating character flaws, are beautifully realized by the actors. A cinematic world I never wanted to leave, everything score with me so perfectly.
  11. ChadS.
    Jan 13, 2006
    10
    "The Squid and the Whale" has a structure that reminds me of "Almost Famous". The great Cameron Crowe film told two stories; how William Miller comes of age, and the death of rock and roll. Noah Baumbach's debut also touches upon the dire straits that an artform is headed towards, while majestically, scathingly, tells the story of a family that's eviscerated by ego and O.P.P. "The Squid and the Whale" has a structure that reminds me of "Almost Famous". The great Cameron Crowe film told two stories; how William Miller comes of age, and the death of rock and roll. Noah Baumbach's debut also touches upon the dire straits that an artform is headed towards, while majestically, scathingly, tells the story of a family that's eviscerated by ego and O.P.P. [***Spoiler***]The key scene is when Bernard(Jeff Daniels) speaks condescendingly about a "popular" novelist he admits is good, but gives the backhanded compliment, for a genre writer. In 1986, this author was well-thought of, but today, his status is one who is thought to be an all-time-great, although his work isn't "serious", like say the work of the late Saul Bellow(whose novel is used as a prop, I think, to serve as a popular/literary novel binary). Bernard Berkman is a writer of well-received novels, but they're too dense, too inaccesible for the hoi polloi, and will soon be forgotten. It's a private joke among literature nuts when he dismisses the author of "The Hot Kid". There is also a connection between the appearance of a certain ABC sitcom that ran from 1977 to 1984, and his inability to be published. If you read the backpage of Entertainment Weekly, the ideological war that Stephen King wages against literary fiction as being elitist, and how he champions writers who have no chance of being shortlisted for the National Book Award, will inform you what this movie is really about. The divorce, the sperm, the Baldwin; that's all smoke and mirrors. The rivalry between the writing Berkmans made me want to re-read Tabitha King's "One on One", a novel every bit as good as some of her husband's work. Expand
  12. RolandG
    Dec 6, 2006
    10
    A troubling and visceral movie that had me squirming all over my seat and peeking through fingers in parts. Uncomfortable to watch with thoroughly unpleasant characters. However overall it was a beautiful and ultimately satisfying piece of filmmaking which presented the difficulties of dealing with divorce and in particular the enormous difficulties in dealing with narcissistic parents. A troubling and visceral movie that had me squirming all over my seat and peeking through fingers in parts. Uncomfortable to watch with thoroughly unpleasant characters. However overall it was a beautiful and ultimately satisfying piece of filmmaking which presented the difficulties of dealing with divorce and in particular the enormous difficulties in dealing with narcissistic parents. The acting was first rate. Recommended only if you are able to deal with feeling thoroughly uncomfortable and are able to look deeper than the superficial layers of a movie. Expand
  13. GregW
    Jan 5, 2006
    10
    This was one of the most painfully funny movies I've ever seen. My parents haven't even gone through a divorce, and I related to it. It shows the first time you see your parents as humans, not some drone who is dull and gives you rules you don't understand. And Jeff Daniels' performance was nothing short of brilliant.
  14. GabeR.
    Jan 5, 2006
    10
    Excellent.
  15. SimonS.
    Apr 18, 2006
    10
    Extremely well made movie. People, if you're going to watch an Indy movie you have to be open minded. Im really amazed it has a really low user rating. The movie deals with flawed human beings (like all of us) and is in a way quite redemptive and accepting. I loved it.
  16. bernier.
    Apr 9, 2006
    10
    Great movie.
  17. DanL.
    May 4, 2006
    10
    Ignore the negative reviews here, this movie is unconventional by modern standards, but it is also moving and incredibly unsettling. The characters are written with haunting honesty, and the story ends on a tragic, yet proper note. I can't blame people for not getting The Squid and the Whale. When I originally saw it in the theater most people simply gawked at the ending, the truth Ignore the negative reviews here, this movie is unconventional by modern standards, but it is also moving and incredibly unsettling. The characters are written with haunting honesty, and the story ends on a tragic, yet proper note. I can't blame people for not getting The Squid and the Whale. When I originally saw it in the theater most people simply gawked at the ending, the truth is, by american cinema standards we (as viewers) are used to having the point driven into our faces with a hammer. We're used to some ridiculously huge monologue, or character change or something, and lets be real, alot of life is painful, alot of life is unresolved, and alot of life is still unknown. The Squid and the Whale captures the pain of that perfectly. Expand
  18. CamiK.
    Jan 14, 2007
    10
    Brilliant, superbly acted, and rivetting throughout.
  19. Dave
    Nov 16, 2005
    10
    I knew Noah Baumbach was destined for great things after seeing "Kicking and Screaming" (no, not the one that was released earlier in the year!!) in the mid 90's. Daniels and Linney were great, as usual, and I agree the kids were also very good. I can really relate to this film since my parents also divorced. Keep up the good work Noah!
  20. JanetteY.
    Nov 6, 2005
    10
    Wow, one of my favorite films of the year! And what an appropriate title to keep me on the track of intrigue, watching the inner and outer battles and struggles each member of a broken home faces. Themes of foolish anger and insecurity trumpet from scene to scene. Indeed, a dramatic and psychological thriller that exposes human flaws a bold and unpretentious way.
  21. bernier.
    Dec 27, 2005
    10
    Great movie.
  22. Spongeee
    Dec 4, 2005
    10
    I went into the film thinking that it was going to be a yuppy-cliche indie "liberal" film, but instead, I got a heart-felt, greatly crafted, shot, edited, and written film. All the characters draw you in and make you care about the film. Quality film!!! Brotha!!!
  23. BobA.
    Jan 16, 2006
    10
    I'll never understand people who hate a movie because the characters are unlikable (I suppose that would also make Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Citizen Kane bad) as if the point of every movie is to make you like the characters. The story (with its, yes, awful characters) has something truly honest to say.
  24. D-fiddy
    Mar 24, 2006
    10
    I found this movie too be so completely honest and just downright amazing. I found my self entertained throughout and did not want it to end. Ends abruptly, but really wraps it up for you. A must see for any Wes Anderson Fans.
  25. dade
    Nov 26, 2006
    10
    Moving, troubled and beautiful. I still can't get over the fact that the father was played by the same guy who was forced to lock himself in the bathroom in Dumb and Dumber after accidentally consuming a large amount of laxative. Jeff Daniels was amazing.
  26. AndrewC.
    Jan 8, 2006
    9
    Doubt I'll see a better movie from '05.
  27. [Anonymous]
    Feb 3, 2006
    9
    Brilliant writing, brilliant acting. Personal, unique directorial vision. Only weakness is slightly unambitious plot.
  28. Bryan
    Mar 27, 2006
    9
    my only problem with this movie is that in 1987, there is no way that Walt plays "Hey You" and passes it off as his own and no one calls him on it until AFTER the concert is over. The Wall was huge at that point and someone would have noticed before the concert even started and said something.
  29. GregI..
    Nov 2, 2005
    9
    A wonderful, funny, heartbreaking, original film with great performances and masterful direction.
  30. garheard
    Oct 21, 2005
    9
    Just because characters don't have the high-gloss sheen of a big-budget flick or lack the bland heroic qualities of typical protagonists doesn't make this a bad flick. To Fantasy and Wendy, I'd encourage you to see something "safe" like Just Like Heaven. For someone interested in real drama, with witty dialogue, flawed characters and a nifty little soundtrack, go watch this movie.
  31. BradP.
    Apr 19, 2006
    9
    Painful and entertaining - I grew up among some of these people in NY in the '60s, but thankfully my own folks did a much better job. Jeff Daniels is terrific as a middle-aged intellectual utterly trapped by hubris and his past. You watch the two boys get endlessly manipulated by the carping parents who use their intelligence only to make matters worse. It highlights the peculiar Painful and entertaining - I grew up among some of these people in NY in the '60s, but thankfully my own folks did a much better job. Jeff Daniels is terrific as a middle-aged intellectual utterly trapped by hubris and his past. You watch the two boys get endlessly manipulated by the carping parents who use their intelligence only to make matters worse. It highlights the peculiar disconnect between high achievement in one area of life and failure in others; this too I have seen. Beautiful minds with empty hearts. The film ends in the middle, as one reviewer complained - but that is appropriate. There is a lot to come, more than can be put here; and we are left to imagine that for ourselves. I wouldn't be so affected were the portrayals not so dead-on. All 4 primary cast members are superb and disturbed. Expand
  32. ChrisL.
    May 12, 2006
    9
    If you can handle the complexities of uncertainty, and if you hold the belief that our lives are never neat and organized and pretty, then you'll appreciate this film. The characters are wonderfully drawn, the core dilemma handled with equal measures of humour and heartbreaking sentiment, and the ethos created with a light, deft hand. One knock: the mother is not as well drawn as her If you can handle the complexities of uncertainty, and if you hold the belief that our lives are never neat and organized and pretty, then you'll appreciate this film. The characters are wonderfully drawn, the core dilemma handled with equal measures of humour and heartbreaking sentiment, and the ethos created with a light, deft hand. One knock: the mother is not as well drawn as her sons and husband, and though Linney does as much as she can to bring a fullness to this mysterious character, I was left with the niggling suspicion that the director simply did not know her. Otherwise, this is a fine film--unless you like all your loose-ends neatly tied. Expand
  33. ms
    Nov 24, 2005
    9
    Somehow I doubt that those who gave this movie a score lower then a five were looking at all of the aspects of the film as a critic should. Somehow I doubt that they didn't even pay attention to the fact that this is a movie for those who won't squirm in their seats. It's a dramatic film with the darkest of humor and the most tragic of divorces. It realistically captures Somehow I doubt that those who gave this movie a score lower then a five were looking at all of the aspects of the film as a critic should. Somehow I doubt that they didn't even pay attention to the fact that this is a movie for those who won't squirm in their seats. It's a dramatic film with the darkest of humor and the most tragic of divorces. It realistically captures the fractured aftermath of simmering divorce and how it affects the children of the parents responsible. To those who call the acting amateurish..to shame my friend...to shame. Jeff Daniels gives the performance of the year and probably his career and Laura Linney is a brilliant actress in her own right as well. There is virtually no plot although the story has a ton of substance and was more then enough to keep me in my seat. People have to realize that this story is not about being entertaining...this is artistic but it's like a very acurate portrait. It really made me cry it was so real..I knew families who went through divorces..I knew people who had the same issues with their families...this was just a solidification of my knowledge..a secondary source if you will. It could have been a documentary had it been filmed with actual lives. How people can put this film down with a zero or any red score is absolutely astounding because these are the same people who give Fantastic Four an 8...peace out. Expand
  34. allyl.
    Nov 4, 2005
    9
    Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney were great as usual but I was really impressed with the kids. They were terrific, not cutesy movie kids. I definitely recommend this movie.
  35. BrucutZ.
    Oct 19, 2005
    9
    Sharp and funny movie about four sad and lonely people working through a messy divorce in NYC mid-1980s. It's self-aware enough not to sentimentalize any of the characters, but I ended up with sympathy for each of them...even the sadly narcissistic whale of a Dad (well-played by Jeff Daniels). He's forced to confront his loneliness and how much he needs his sons' approal, Sharp and funny movie about four sad and lonely people working through a messy divorce in NYC mid-1980s. It's self-aware enough not to sentimentalize any of the characters, but I ended up with sympathy for each of them...even the sadly narcissistic whale of a Dad (well-played by Jeff Daniels). He's forced to confront his loneliness and how much he needs his sons' approal, since his life otherwise holds almost nothing. Mom is well-played by Laura Linney, but she's the one underwritten character here (and the only female principal). Anyway, a provocative and bittersweet movie about how smart people can mess up as disasterously as anyone. Expand
  36. JeremyW.
    Dec 12, 2005
    9
    Not an easy movie to watch, but perhaps, one of the most rewarding of the past year. An often bitingly satirical and anguishing picture which provides a look at the life of a family in the midst of self-destruction and turmoil. Baumbach's screenplay will get most of the kudos as it richly deserves, but ultimately it is the performances of Linney and Daniels that give the kind of Not an easy movie to watch, but perhaps, one of the most rewarding of the past year. An often bitingly satirical and anguishing picture which provides a look at the life of a family in the midst of self-destruction and turmoil. Baumbach's screenplay will get most of the kudos as it richly deserves, but ultimately it is the performances of Linney and Daniels that give the kind of heart-breaking and inspired touch that makes this movie work. Its perhaps the one film this year that pulls no punches in its look at a academic and bohemian lifestyle and how it affects those involved in a family. Interesting from start to finish, you'll leave the theater, not being able to think about anything other than what you've just seen. Expand
  37. Robin
    Oct 22, 2005
    9
    Intelligent, real, inspired -- a nuanced, orginal take on the ol' growing-up-with-a-screwed-up-family theme, the parents flawlessly portrayed and the kids wholly believable. Gritty yet sympathetic. Wonderful filmmaking.
  38. jarenm.
    Oct 24, 2005
    9
    This movie has life in it. Complex, heartfelt, quirky, horrifying, loveable, humorous--that which defines family life. A beautiful film. However, if you want over-simplified stories about one-dimensional characters start going to movies with Wendy and Fantasy.
  39. ChrisM.
    Jan 22, 2006
    9
    If you didn't like it you didn't get it. And that's just kinda too bad.
  40. BillM.
    Feb 3, 2006
    8
    A small, wonderful movie. Terrific script, beautifully acted. Highly recommended.
  41. EkwW.
    Mar 31, 2006
    8
    This excellent film dissects the woes of a hyper-intellectual couple whose confused children struggle to grasp the full, awful meaning of divorce. Performances are universally good, especially Daniels and young Jesse Eisenberg. Linney is also fine as the cheating mother. The script has sharp, caustic dialogue and sudden, immediate generalities which burst forth from the pompous father and This excellent film dissects the woes of a hyper-intellectual couple whose confused children struggle to grasp the full, awful meaning of divorce. Performances are universally good, especially Daniels and young Jesse Eisenberg. Linney is also fine as the cheating mother. The script has sharp, caustic dialogue and sudden, immediate generalities which burst forth from the pompous father and rebound from his elder son as gospel. Anyone who has been in the middle of a divorce - whether children or the actual adult participants - will feel the sting. Expand
  42. MarthaR.
    Dec 24, 2005
    8
    A cautionary tale for divorcing parents who consider themselves "intellectual."
  43. ArnoldP.
    Oct 29, 2005
    8
    A absolutely poignant and so personal account of children reacting to their parents breakup, that is of course flawed, but with an insight that the characters each portray touched me deeeply. It was compelling and painful to watch, sad and funny. Only serious filmgoers fare not a chick-flick or date movie but a well crafted cinematic play bya very talented writer-director.
  44. hope
    Jan 9, 2006
    8
    Those who didn't find the movie engaging or realistic make me wonder if they have ever experienced the futility of human error. Yes, some of the character traits are magnified, but they are hand-picked to portray the most unnerving sides of human frailty - and they are disturbingly real. I am actually grateful that some of you think that these characters are shallow and Those who didn't find the movie engaging or realistic make me wonder if they have ever experienced the futility of human error. Yes, some of the character traits are magnified, but they are hand-picked to portray the most unnerving sides of human frailty - and they are disturbingly real. I am actually grateful that some of you think that these characters are shallow and one-dimensional, because it means you've had the good fortune not to come across situations like these! Tight script, raw acting, irritating characters, undeniably real. Expand
  45. HalB.
    Apr 4, 2007
    8
    The reviews of Dierdre B (10) and DA Floyd (2) both make excellent points. This is a very good film about the impact of divorce (and narcissism) on children AND it amounts to "self-indulgent scab-ripping"! But how many film-makers can be said to NOT be self-indulgent in putting their vision, their art, their peronsal stories on the big screen? As to D.A.'s conclusion that The reviews of Dierdre B (10) and DA Floyd (2) both make excellent points. This is a very good film about the impact of divorce (and narcissism) on children AND it amounts to "self-indulgent scab-ripping"! But how many film-makers can be said to NOT be self-indulgent in putting their vision, their art, their peronsal stories on the big screen? As to D.A.'s conclusion that there's nothing in this film to "redeem the painful experience", I simply disagree. Even when the topic is painful, good acting and screenwriting and direction can result in a truly remarkable and moving film. And the soundtrack is excellent, to boot. Expand
  46. EdK.
    Dec 13, 2005
    8
    Bizarre. Original & creative. Believable. Well-acted. I think those adjectives sum it up. You might love this film, or you might hate it. But if you're into "artsy" kinds of movies, you'll probably love it.
  47. JenM.
    Mar 31, 2006
    8
    Not for everyone (it's pretty quirky), but I loved it. Brilliant acting, especially Daniels. Despicable character, but painfully realistic.
  48. AdamK.
    Dec 17, 2007
    8
    it is hard to describe this movie..not for a couple having a bad week...but a great movie...you are sympathetic to this group but at the same time are kind of bewildered by their behavior. The parents are completely screwed up and they are passing down their problems to their kids...a great interplay of characters carrying out this story..netflix it.
  49. TracyR.
    Jan 14, 2006
    7
    It's a well-done movie with some things to day about how children react to divorce, no matter how "managed", and some of the foibles of intellectual people having to deal with emotions instead of ideas. But the character of the father is so over-developed, and to some degree, over-invested in by the director (who no doubt felt this way as a child, but needs to work with his as It's a well-done movie with some things to day about how children react to divorce, no matter how "managed", and some of the foibles of intellectual people having to deal with emotions instead of ideas. But the character of the father is so over-developed, and to some degree, over-invested in by the director (who no doubt felt this way as a child, but needs to work with his as creative material, not therapy) that frankly the whole movie becomes a reaction to and against him, and the rest of the characters, most noticeably the mother, become washed out by comparison. Unfortunately one's entire reaction to the movie becomes dependent on whether you find Dad utterly annoying and worthless, or somehow touching despite the bluster. And that probably accounts for the wildly differing reviews. Expand
  50. Adrian
    Nov 16, 2005
    7
    An "Ordinary People" for the oughts...Who would empathize members of a wealthy white family whose only worry in life is how they relate one to another? Educated people high on Maslow's hierarchy have the luxury to figure things out but can't seem to, leading to an absorbing display of human imperfection and pettiness. Relationships are fragile things no matter what resources one An "Ordinary People" for the oughts...Who would empathize members of a wealthy white family whose only worry in life is how they relate one to another? Educated people high on Maslow's hierarchy have the luxury to figure things out but can't seem to, leading to an absorbing display of human imperfection and pettiness. Relationships are fragile things no matter what resources one apparently has to bring to bear. Expand
  51. MarkE.
    Apr 3, 2006
    6
    I felt like I watched the shortened version of a much longer film. This kind of story cannot be told in 88 minutes. It would have been nice to see more serious moments of emotion or tension mixed with the dark humour. Also why did they choose the music from 'Risky Business' for the scenes involving the younger boy? The younger boy's role did not describe a confused child in I felt like I watched the shortened version of a much longer film. This kind of story cannot be told in 88 minutes. It would have been nice to see more serious moments of emotion or tension mixed with the dark humour. Also why did they choose the music from 'Risky Business' for the scenes involving the younger boy? The younger boy's role did not describe a confused child in a believable way and was a distraction from the rest of the film. Expand
  52. DanB
    Oct 23, 2005
    6
    It's like a Wes Anderson movie, but with more "real" and "uncomfortable" and, yes, "honest" moments. Oh, and with less of everything else, including humor, good plotting, etc. I hope Anderson takes no cues from this guy... and that he doesn't write his next film with him, either.
  53. AnonymousMC
    Oct 22, 2006
    6
    Two-dimmensional characters.
  54. Jun 8, 2012
    6
    this is a review. this is a review. this is a review. this is a review. this is a review. this is a review. this is a review. this is a review. this is a review. this is a review. this is a review. this is a review. this is a review.
  55. PaulF.
    Jan 13, 2006
    5
    This movie could have been so much more. The acting was decent but not out of this world either. The cinematography was fine, ok. But the writing and underling theme was something to be desired. The father was reduced to utter simplicity and the youngest was used mostly for gratuitous shock value. I am not a prude in the least but there was no warrant for his character to do as he did, This movie could have been so much more. The acting was decent but not out of this world either. The cinematography was fine, ok. But the writing and underling theme was something to be desired. The father was reduced to utter simplicity and the youngest was used mostly for gratuitous shock value. I am not a prude in the least but there was no warrant for his character to do as he did, plus it was utterly ridiculous, he was obviously not old enough to be into puberty. The more I think about this film the lower I want to give the score so I'll give it a generous five and leave it at that. Collapse
  56. RhettW.
    Dec 28, 2005
    5
    I "get it", but I didn't enjoy being around these people.
  57. HeatherW.
    Jan 3, 2006
    3
    I was looking forward to seeing this movie because so many of my favorite critics liked it, but, boy, was I disappointed. The characters border on characture (esp. the father), and all of them (except the younger brother) were pretty unlikeable. Not that I have to like characters to like a movie, but there has to be *something* that draws me in. This just really didn't. Acting was I was looking forward to seeing this movie because so many of my favorite critics liked it, but, boy, was I disappointed. The characters border on characture (esp. the father), and all of them (except the younger brother) were pretty unlikeable. Not that I have to like characters to like a movie, but there has to be *something* that draws me in. This just really didn't. Acting was all right, but the writing/story was self-indulgent and annoying. Expand
  58. Detroit
    Oct 20, 2005
    3
    Great acting but not much more. Depressing as hell and shot as if it were a home movie. Not worth your trouble.
  59. WilliamL.
    Jan 2, 2006
    3
    Why the critics liked this is a mystery. Lame story, below average script, pointless, acting O/K. for material. 6 of us adults who went agreed.
  60. ElizabethW.
    Oct 25, 2005
    3
    Awful!
  61. peters.
    Jan 7, 2006
    2
    Shallow, single dimensional characters. very disappointing.
  62. D.A.Floyd
    Jul 2, 2006
    2
    Far be it from me to suggest that a feature film should tell a story rather than submit its audience to self-indulgent scab-ripping. I sat through this film because the actors did a decent job with what is in essence directorial psychic masturbation captured on celluloid. I refuse to give credit to a film ONLY for being "real," as if leaving the camcorder running in divorce court Far be it from me to suggest that a feature film should tell a story rather than submit its audience to self-indulgent scab-ripping. I sat through this film because the actors did a decent job with what is in essence directorial psychic masturbation captured on celluloid. I refuse to give credit to a film ONLY for being "real," as if leaving the camcorder running in divorce court constitutes art. And while it is entirely possible for a "painful" film to be excellent, one cannot mistake pain for excellence. The film WAS painful to watch, and the acting WAS above average. However, there was nothing in the film to redeem the painful experience. Is the "message" is that married adults divorcing in an orgy of narcissism harms the psychological development of children? So am I supposed to thank the director for poking me in the eye with a stick to convey the painfully obvious? It is so easy to immagine why many soi-disant critics would feel compelled to applaud this film. Only in certain circles it is it considered "edgy" to suggest that one should not commit adultery and that divorce is a grave offense againt natural law. For those who do not know this, the film might pummel some sense into them. For the rest of us this film rarely transcends the graphic accident films adolescents are forced to endure before getting behind the wheel. Expand
  63. Squallie
    Oct 25, 2005
    2
    Depressing film about a confused family with a horrible father and promiscuous mother. As a result, it is not unexpected that both brothers are totally screwed up. Filmed as if a documentary by a hand held camera with a great deal of meaningless dialogue thrown in. Everything is predictable and downright depressing. Not worthy of your time.
  64. FredB.
    Apr 15, 2006
    2
    When the credits rolled, we all said, "That's it???" We had started in the middle of some folks' lives, and that's where we ended up, with nothing resolved. [***SPOILERS***] Along the way we suffered through the miseries of a dysfunctional family (oh THAT'S fun to watch...), parents who allow their children to drink at home and use foul langage, some bizarre solo When the credits rolled, we all said, "That's it???" We had started in the middle of some folks' lives, and that's where we ended up, with nothing resolved. [***SPOILERS***] Along the way we suffered through the miseries of a dysfunctional family (oh THAT'S fun to watch...), parents who allow their children to drink at home and use foul langage, some bizarre solo sexual activity of a young man that will make many folks uncomfortable, and a father whose PhD makes him feel he knows more than anyone else. But most of all we wondered ... what's wrong with those critics? "Treacherously funny" - no. "Steering clear of phony melodrama" - ha! "Payoff will have you smiling" - NOT! Only good acting saves this from being rated a 0 or 1. Expand
  65. KyleW.
    Jan 29, 2006
    2
    Analougous to Rent, why should one care about the parents!?
  66. Steve
    Mar 25, 2008
    2
    I couldn't say it any better than D.A. Floyd, but I'd add the charge that the director depicted sex, both in language (cunts?) and action (12-year-old masturbation, girl-friend giving a handjob to boyfriend?) than was necessary. Is this child of the 60s turning into a prude in his old age? Don't think so. Just keep on asking why sex keeps on getting so much more emphasis I couldn't say it any better than D.A. Floyd, but I'd add the charge that the director depicted sex, both in language (cunts?) and action (12-year-old masturbation, girl-friend giving a handjob to boyfriend?) than was necessary. Is this child of the 60s turning into a prude in his old age? Don't think so. Just keep on asking why sex keeps on getting so much more emphasis than the story needs. As for example: in Babel, the Mexican nanny being groped at her son's wedding; in Nowhere in Africa, the husband and wife making love, both totally nude. How does either contribute to the story? In contrast, and to show how sex and passion can be better portrayed, see The Illusionist. What's my point, finally, if not already clear? That what makes movies like Squid-Whale gripping is the voyeurism that titillates us. Without it, just another (yes, well acted) flick. Expand
  67. TomS
    Dec 12, 2005
    2
    This was a movie with a great cast. But the film went nowhere. Not one of the characters was sympathetic, and not one of them grew in any sense during the course of the film. It was like watching 90 minutes of misery arriving at the insightful conclusion that "divorce is hard." Save your money.
  68. Lisa
    Dec 12, 2005
    1
    Bland boring disgusting movie about a family coming apart at the seams and no one doing a damn thing about it. The acting was okay but nothing made much sense including the wife/mother coming of age and taking up with a moronic teaching tennis pro who had an IQ the equivalent of the Squid and the Whale, pehaps a shade below. And as for the younger son, please. I do not need to see him Bland boring disgusting movie about a family coming apart at the seams and no one doing a damn thing about it. The acting was okay but nothing made much sense including the wife/mother coming of age and taking up with a moronic teaching tennis pro who had an IQ the equivalent of the Squid and the Whale, pehaps a shade below. And as for the younger son, please. I do not need to see him masterbating and spreading his future children on doors, books and whatever. The father and the older son were both complete losers as was this distasteful movie. Expand
  69. Squall
    Dec 15, 2005
    1
    Can't understand the hype on this movie. It's only appeal is to snobbish intellectuals; but haivng said that, the relationship between the coming of age ex-wife and her dimwit boyfriend is simply laughable. As for the moronic husband and dysfunctional children the less said the better. This is a very prosaic movie and a waste of your time and money. In a word: Awful!
  70. RamonaC.
    Oct 25, 2005
    1
    Went to see this on the recommendation of a friend. Usually, I find his opinions and recommendations excellent. As my father once told me, you can't win them all. Depressing amateurish film with two great lead actors. Not much to work with here. Sorry Stanley.
  71. Fantasy
    Oct 19, 2005
    1
    This is a movie not even a mother could love. It tells the story about a dysfunctional family living in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY in the 19080's. First there's the father played by a self pretentious Jeff Daniels. He's a failed author, devoid of any and all personality, who is self absorbed, arrogant, a selfish cheap bastard who cares nothing about anyone other than himself. This is a movie not even a mother could love. It tells the story about a dysfunctional family living in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY in the 19080's. First there's the father played by a self pretentious Jeff Daniels. He's a failed author, devoid of any and all personality, who is self absorbed, arrogant, a selfish cheap bastard who cares nothing about anyone other than himself. He tries desperately to recapture his youth by befriending and then bedding a twenty-year old coed college student. If this isn't bad enough, he's brainwashed his eldest son, a teenager, to become his clone at the expense of his son. His younger son Frank is treated like a second class citizen and hates his father so much that he spends his time masturbating throughout the movie spreading it on books, walls, and any other place just to get some attention, albeit negative. The elder preferred son hates his mother, does his father's bidding up until the point that he's finally ready for a welcome dose of Dr. Kervorkian's suicide? The mother played by Laura Linney is a plain Jane. She wears no makeup but sticks it to her husband by having become a successful writer. She sleeps with any and all that cross her path including, but not limited to, friends of her children. She takes up with a teaching tennis pro who has the IQ of an amoebae and acts the part. His only line is the word "Brother." The moral of this poor excuse for a motion picture is it's better to get eaten by a Squid or a Whale then to endure this type of family environment. The same could be said for the the audience who pays admission to watch this crapola. Avoid. Expand
  72. PaulH.
    Dec 17, 2005
    1
    Great actors in a nonsensical role doing nothing. Nice if you pay to see this as all they do is rob and take your money. Much ado about nothing here.
  73. George
    Jan 17, 2006
    1
    The only good part of this film came at the end when you see the Squid and The Whale in the Museum of Natural History. A tour of the museum would have been so much for interesting than this lifeless bore of a movie.
  74. ScottV.
    Apr 11, 2006
    1
    This is one of the worst movies I've ever seen, but sadly it's too gross to be entertainingly bad. The main problem is that two of the characters (older son and mother) seem to be played as flawed but sympathetic characters while the other two (father and younger son) are more like walking parodies. In a nearly plotless, psychological movie like this, walking parodies are the This is one of the worst movies I've ever seen, but sadly it's too gross to be entertainingly bad. The main problem is that two of the characters (older son and mother) seem to be played as flawed but sympathetic characters while the other two (father and younger son) are more like walking parodies. In a nearly plotless, psychological movie like this, walking parodies are the bull in the china shop and tear the entire movie down around them. Particularly disturbing is the younger son, who seems to show every sign of sexual abuse but instead of exploring or even just explaining this, the movie plays it up for "comic relief". Your life will be better having never seen that. Expand
  75. EdgarP.
    Apr 21, 2006
    1
    Extremely unpleasant and ugly. You will have to shower after watching it.
  76. JohnB.
    Apr 3, 2006
    1
    I really like Jeff Daniels and had high hopes for this film-but let's be honest-this thing is a mess from the opening lame tennis scene to the pitifil ending. The actors really sleepwalked thru this-and with good reason. The script is shallow, predictible and worst of all-boring. If you want a good script about marital discord, see The Weatherman. Not perfect, but infinately better I really like Jeff Daniels and had high hopes for this film-but let's be honest-this thing is a mess from the opening lame tennis scene to the pitifil ending. The actors really sleepwalked thru this-and with good reason. The script is shallow, predictible and worst of all-boring. If you want a good script about marital discord, see The Weatherman. Not perfect, but infinately better in every category than this fiasco. Expand
  77. ElizabethW.
    Dec 15, 2005
    1
    Awful!
  78. John
    Mar 26, 2006
    1
    Vapid characters--vapid storyline--vapid sophmoric sexyality--vapid waste of time.
  79. GilW
    Nov 15, 2005
    1
    I went to see this movie with great expectations, but left the theater with the feeling of being robbed. The acting boardered on amatuerish from everyone involved. The story was choppy and lacked fluidity. What movie were the critics watching? I was very bored and fought to keep myself awake.
  80. Rickie
    Jan 1, 2006
    0
    I see everyone either loved or hated this movie. Put me in the camp that thought this was one giant boring movie made only by some good actors to collect a paycheck. Awful.
  81. wendy
    Oct 19, 2005
    0
    Hated this dysfunctional family especially the father and the older son. As for the boring tennis pro, all I can do is repeat his ONLY line throughout this dreadful movie...BROTHER! Yuk!
  82. Ladyfinger
    Jan 11, 2006
    0
    Undeniably Real? C'mon undeniably boring is more like it. Movies are to be enjoyed and invoke the viewers emotions. This was tedious and prosaic in which I had no empathy or feelings for any of the characters. It was forgotten the minute I left the theater. Awful.
  83. TeddyA.
    Oct 25, 2005
    0
    Saw this movie yesterday evening. I have to tell you, I thought the story was ludicrous, predictable and moronic. Here's a successful writer in the mother hooking up with an idiot teaching tennis pro. The father, if you could call him that, is a loser with a miserable personality who is totally self absorbed. Their children are totally screwed up with such dysfunctionable parents as Saw this movie yesterday evening. I have to tell you, I thought the story was ludicrous, predictable and moronic. Here's a successful writer in the mother hooking up with an idiot teaching tennis pro. The father, if you could call him that, is a loser with a miserable personality who is totally self absorbed. Their children are totally screwed up with such dysfunctionable parents as their family. As for the film, it appeared as shot from a hand held video camera by an amateur. All it really succeeds in is therapy for its sorry author by telling his story. It's too bad to even be believed. Not to worry, as this is nothing more than a home movie and will disappear quickly. You have been warned. Avoid. Expand
  84. AndyP.
    Jan 3, 2006
    0
    Came away very unimpressed. Not worthy of your time or money. Avoid.
  85. CongoGongo
    Jan 9, 2006
    0
    Refund!
  86. Reggierr
    Nov 18, 2005
    0
    Where is the young son when you need him. He should share his joy all over this movie as he did to the books, etc. Horrible.
  87. JanetS.
    Oct 25, 2005
    0
    Great actors earning a paycheck nothing more. Five minutes driving around looking for a parking spot. Two minutes at the Museum Of Natural History. Five minutes watching tennis lessons from an idiot. Ten minutes looking at the walls of delapidated apartment in Brooklyn. Camera jumping up and down as if taken by an amateur. And a story only the author and his family could like as the Great actors earning a paycheck nothing more. Five minutes driving around looking for a parking spot. Two minutes at the Museum Of Natural History. Five minutes watching tennis lessons from an idiot. Ten minutes looking at the walls of delapidated apartment in Brooklyn. Camera jumping up and down as if taken by an amateur. And a story only the author and his family could like as the father and mother are losers as are their children. This may be the most overrated depressing film about a screwed up family ever. If you are on Prosac or Crack perhaps you will find it amusing. As for me I found it to be the pits. Hated it. Expand
  88. J.
    Dec 11, 2005
    0
    This was so awful there aren't any words to describe it. Just your average dysfunctional family on the rocks and headed to oblivion.
  89. Floyd
    Dec 16, 2005
    0
    In an nutshell this film sucked pure and simple. Enough said.
  90. Leslie
    Dec 31, 2005
    0
    Pukesville!
  91. Mar 22, 2011
    0
    The mother is totally fake, Jeff Daniels looks like he is not sure if this is supposed to be a comedy or something more serious. What a bore of a movie..I fell asleep after five minutes, so at least I got a good nap out of it. When it is clear from the get go that both parents are headcases, you can be sure that you are in for 90 minutes of agony. It evades me how this flick gets the raveThe mother is totally fake, Jeff Daniels looks like he is not sure if this is supposed to be a comedy or something more serious. What a bore of a movie..I fell asleep after five minutes, so at least I got a good nap out of it. When it is clear from the get go that both parents are headcases, you can be sure that you are in for 90 minutes of agony. It evades me how this flick gets the rave reviews it did. I am going to pick up my video camera this afternoon and shoot random stuff, ask random people random questions, and you can be sure it's going to be a lot more interesting than this... Expand
Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. 80
    Tender, cruel, and very funny, Baumbach's fourth feature turns family history into a sort of urban myth.
  2. 80
    Baumbach crams an impressive amount of characterization and humor into 82 minutes.
  3. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    70
    Pic makes up in strong performances and wry observation what it sometimes lacks in narrative drive. Result is a perceptive (and unexpectedly moving) portrait of lives in crisis.