The Squid And The Whale

Thesquidandthewhalelisten to the podcast


Year: 2005

Writer: Noah Baumbach

Director: Noah Baumbach

Budget: $1.5 million (estimated)

Gross: $7 362 100

this might be one of the more successful films i have talked about lately, given that it made about six times more then what it cost to produce.  however, given that the grand gross total is still under $10 million i think its fair to say that not enough people have seen or heard of this excellent film. 

The Squid And The whale is about a family breaking up in brooklyn, new york in 1986 and right when the film begins we see what side everyone is going to be on:  the opening scene is of the family playing tennis with the dad and the older son on one side and the mother on the other side with the younger boy.  these are the two teams and this divide is just made more evident when the parents split up and the kids are forced to split their time between them.

The Squid And The Whale is a simple family drama, but yet it had me on the edge of my seat like i was watching an action movie.  the script was right there in my face and i found myself just completely enthralled by what everyone was saying and how they were saying it (almost as much as when i watch Glengarry Glen Ross, which is still the epitome of mouth agape viewing for me).

all the performances are great, but jeff daniels is just brilliant as the father.  he is an educated, pretentious professor/used-to-be-famous writer and the scenes with him and his eldest son are gold.  he is completely open with his son as if he was one of his adult friends (which we don't see any of, if he has any) and his son, a younger version of himself idolizes him and thinks that he can do no wrong (at least in the beginning).  watching their relationship within the context of what is happening to the family is almost perfect.

although i tend to find that many shorter films feel as if they were prematurely cut and that content that would have made them better was probably left on the cutting room floor, with The Squid And The Whale that is not the case at all.  the film is not even 90 minutes long and yet it feels so complete and full and developed.

i don't want to tell you the story (cause that is why we watch the movies), but what is more important is the power of the script in creating something so engaging and dramatic and funny with such a simple premise.

i shouldn't be surprised by that though.  since noah baumbahcs first film Kicking And Screaming does the same thing, just in that film he is dealing with post-grad 20-somethings and the whole 'now what do i do' thing.  that is another film you should check out, but if you haven't yet had the pleasure of The Squid And The Whale don't wait any longer.