Movie Review: The Squid and the Whale

A dysfunctional family comedy

By Megan Dassuncao

An independent film by Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale, will have you laughing throughout the whole movie. This strange story, now on video and DVD, takes place in Brooklyn, New York in 1986 where two boys are struggling to deal with their parents’ divorce. This is not a typical “family” movie. The dad, played by Jeff Daniels, is a writer and professor who is slowly losing his ability to produce quality books. While the mother, played by Laura Linney, is finally taking off in the literary world. This is just one piece to the separation.

Each child seems to side with either parent and are both caught in the middle while the parents wage war on each other. The younger brother, Frank, gets put on the back burner most of the time and begins a life at 12, as if he was an adult. He begins drinking beer at home and acts out sexually at school. On the flip side Walt, 16, tries to emulate his father, right down to being infatuated with the same 20-year-old student.

This synopsis might not seem like a laughing matter, but it seems as if Baumbach took a difficult time in any child’s life and took the situation to such an extreme, a person cannot help but laugh. I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys quirky films. And if nothing else, watch it just to understand why it is called The Squid and the Whale.

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