The Squid and the Whale

User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 299 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 65 out of 299

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User Reviews

  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.
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.