The Squid and the Whale

I am a total sap for divorce movies.  My parents got divorced so reliving other people’s divorces is always of interest. 

I saw the preview for the Squid and the Whale this summer.  I was hooked.  Even Fred said, this is your type of movie.  On a side note, I happen to be a huge Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels fan.  So, how could it be bad.  The movie also won a lot of buzz at film festivals across the country.  In hindsight, maybe there are just too many film festivals. 

The move is set in 1986, Park Slope, Brooklyn.  Another plus, right?  Wrong.  I hated this film. 

To really enjoy a movie you have to really like at least one of the characters.  The wife, played by Laura Linney, is a completely unsupportive mother.  She is clueless on how to connect with her kids.  She shares with them information that is completely inappropriate.  Has no undertanding of them.  Ugh. 

He is worse.  I haven’t disliked a character in a film so much in quite some time.  I actually can’t remember disliking a character so much.  Jeff Daniels plays an arrogant selfish intellect who is turning his poor son into him.  He is competitive with his kids.  He is all about him.  He is an intellectual snob who has no connection to people.  He also demeans his wife by telling the kids information that shouldn’t be shared.  Yuck, yuck.

The oldest son is pathetic.  He needs major therapy immediately or god forbid he will end up like his father.  The younger son is reaching out but no one is there to hold his hand.  He should get out as soon as he can.

Even the ending of the movie left you with absolutely nothing.  No direction on how their lives will end up, zip.  It was a slice of people who shouldn’t have kids and should get over themselves.

So, if this movie was one of the top ofnyour list to see this fall, immediately pass go, do not stop, continue on to better films in the theaters.  Do yourself a favor, don’t go see The Squid and the Whale.

Comments (Archived):

  1. John Feinberg

    I agreed with most of what you said about the movie, and you pointed out a few things I didn’t notice. In fact the only thing I disagree with is that I liked it! The father is toxic, yes. And the mother shares very much inappropriate information with her children (as does the pa). But damaged people can make for very good movies. I thought there was some very sharp wit throughout the movie, and also watching these people can teach valuable life lessons on seeing what not to do.

  2. Christy

    I loved this movie, too. The characters are deeply flawed, and I wouldn’t want to be part of the family — but that’s what makes them interesting — and the fact that there were no clear answers made the movie believable. I think the movie did a great job of capturing what it was like to be a kid in the mid-80s, at a time when wide-spread divorce was still somewhat new, and nobody knew the rules. It also captured what it was like to be part of a generation of kids that were raised by the me-generation.