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"THE SQUID AND THE WHALE"
(2005) (Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Mild Extreme Mild None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None None None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Minor Extreme Heavy Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Two brothers must deal with the ramifications of their parents' divorce and how that affects their views of them.
PLOT:
It's 1986 Brooklyn and the Berkman family is falling apart. Bernard (JEFF DANIELS) is the intellectual and highly opinionated dad who's upset that his wife, fellow writer Joan (LAURA LINNEY), is still having affairs as well as more professional success than he is.

While their kids -- teenager Walt (JESSE EISENBERG) and his younger brother Frank (OWEN KLINE) -- are dysfunctional in their own right and know something is amiss with their parents, the announcement of their separation and subsequent joint custody throws the boys for a loop.

Walt's trying to sort through his conflicting emotions toward women, ranging from his mother who he now hates, to his pseudo girlfriend Sophie (HALLEY FEIFFER) and Bernard's sexually provocative student Lili (ANNA PAQUIN) who's now moved into the boys' second home. Frank reacts more inappropriately, lashing out at others, drinking alcohol and publicly masturbating.

As Bernard finds himself drawn to Lili and Joan starts seeing the local tennis pro Ivan (WILLAM BALDWIN), their bitterness toward each other continues to affect their sons who try to sort through these disturbing familial developments that have deeply affected everyone.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it doesn't seem too likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong sexual content, graphic dialogue and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JEFF DANIELS plays an intellectual and elitist author and teacher who's highly opinionated and condescending toward others. He's bitter toward Joan about their separation, has a fling with a student (Lili) and uses strong profanity.
  • LAURA LINNEY plays his estranged wife, an up and coming writer who has a history of affairs, including with Ivan, her latest lover. She's bitter toward Bernard about their break-up, uses some profanity and drinks.
  • JESSE EISENBERG plays their teenage son who's inherited or adopted his father's mindset, uses strong profanity, fools around with Sophie and takes credit for a song that he did not write.
  • OWEN KLINE plays his younger but equally troubled brother who's upset and angry, publicly masturbates, drinks a lot and uses strong profanity.
  • ANNA PAQUIN plays Bernard's sexually provocative student who moves into his home, comes on to and makes out with him. She uses strong profanity.
  • WILLAM BALDWIN plays the boys' tennis instructor who ends up involved with Joan (but we don't know if that started before or after her separation from Bernard).
  • HALLEY FEIFFER plays the girl who fools around with Walt.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 26 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also heard. Sexually explicit dialogue is present, a 12-year-old boy publicly masturbates, a teenager manually stimulates her boyfriend to orgasm, a teacher makes out with and gropes his female student who now lives in his house, and brief nudity (bare breasts on TV and in a photo) is present.

    All sorts of tense family material occurs, stemming from a ruined marriage, subsequent separation and joint custody, and the kids' reaction to all of that. Bad attitudes (related to that and other matters) are prevalent, while some bodily-based material (semen, vomit, a bloody nose) is present, as is some brief, physical contact. Characters smoke and/or drink, with the latter including a 12-year-old boy who ends up drinking a lot in secret. A man collapses in the street from what initially seems to be a heart attack, but that's later ruled out.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's bouncy camera work during the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Bernard and Joan have wine with dinner.
  • Young Frank drinks a beer.
  • Walt and Sophie have wine coolers.
  • Bernard has wine with dinner.
  • Frank drinks beer.
  • We see champagne on a table.
  • Miscellaneous people drink at a party.
  • Bernard and Lili have wine with dinner.
  • Bernard has a beer and Lili has a drink at a restaurant.
  • Lili and Walt have beer.
  • Frank pours himself lots of liquor.
  • Frank has beer.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • After masturbating, Frank wipes his semen on library books and later on school lockers.
  • Lili has a bloody nose after an accidental head-butt with Walt.
  • We see a wet cashew from Frank's nose.
  • Frank vomits in a toilet.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Bernard and Joan have bad attitudes toward each other (based on their dissolving marriage) and that rubs off on their kids who focus their anger back at their parents (Frank not liking Bernard and Walt not liking his mom).
  • Walt performs and claims to have written a song that's really by the group Pink Floyd.
  • Bernard is very opinionated about the work of other writers and what Frank says he wants to be when he grows up.
  • Bernard hangs up the phone on Joan while she's on it.
  • Joan hides various books under a bed so that Bernard won't take them when he moves out.
  • We hear that Joan had other affairs in her past and her kids know this.
  • Commenting on her looks, Frank tells his mom that she's ugly.
  • Walt states that he wishes Sophie didn't have so many freckles on her face.
  • About the girl Walt likes, his dad tells him that he has plenty of time to sleep with gorgeous women.
  • Frank throws his ping pong paddle at Bernard when he gets angry playing the game.
  • Bernard and then Walt are condescending about others in general.
  • Walt may give his mom "the finger."
  • Bernard is upset about and jealous of Joan's success.
  • Bernard tells Walt that maybe Walt should sleep with his girlfriend once "to see if you like it."
  • Walt has a bad attitude toward Sophie at times.
  • Bernard tells Lili, "Put me in your mouth" as they stand, clothed and she seems a little resistant as he partially has her shirt up with his hands there (she's his student). Walt then walks in on them and nothing else happens.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • While driving, Bernard nearly hits Ivan with his car.
  • The family cat escapes out on the street and during the ensuing attempts to catch it, Bernard suddenly collapses on the street (we later hear it was not from a heart attack).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "F*ck that c*ck-sh*t," "You f*cking assman," "F*ck it," "F*cked up," "M*therf*cker," "F*ck off," "You're being a sh*t," "I can't believe this sh*t," "I think he's full of sh*t," "I don't give a sh*t," "Unless I blow the super I'm out on my ass," "Suck my d*ck, assman," "Blow your load" (ejaculate), "Blows," "Freaked out," "Half-wit," "Don't be an asshole," "Chick," "He's a philistine," "Pissed me off" and "Bitch."
  • We see that Frank has a cashew up his nose at the dinner table. Later, we see a different wet cashew up his nose.
  • Walt performs and claims to have written a song that's really by the group Pink Floyd.
  • Frank (a preteen) takes up drinking.
  • Frank masturbates in the library (we see the motion of him rubbing against a bookcase while looking at a small, cut-out picture of a woman that shows bare breasts). He then wipes the resultant semen on various books.
  • Walt may give his mom "the finger."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 26 "f" words (4 used sexually, 1 used with "mother"), 12 "s" words, 3 slang terms using female genitals ("c*nt" and "p*ssy"), 3 using male ones ("d*ck" and "c*ck"), 5 asses (2 used with "hole"), 2 damns, 1 S.O.B., 6 uses of "G-damn," 4 of "Jesus" and 1 use each of "God" and "Oh God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Lili reads some of her work that contains various sexual metaphors, while sexual uses of the "f" word and slang for female genitalia are also used in relation to that.
  • We hear that Joan had other affairs in her past and her kids know this.
  • Frank talks to Walt about their mom's affair, with the younger brother saying to imagine the guy's "d*ck" in her mouth or her having anal sex.
  • Frank masturbates in the library (we see the motion of him rubbing against a bookcase while looking at a small, cut-out picture of a woman that shows bare breasts). He then wipes the resultant semen on various books.
  • Walt tells his friend "Your dad was f*cking my mom."
  • A comment is made about a tryst and that it was "Just an affair, a f*ck."
  • Walt and Sophie kiss, and she complains about the way he does that.
  • About the girl Walt likes, his dad tells him that he has plenty of time to sleep with gorgeous women.
  • We see that Frank still has the above cut-out picture of a woman, now at the dinner table.
  • Lili tells Bernard that "Unless I blow the super I'm out on my ass." Bernard then offers her a room at his place, with the joke being that she wouldn't have to blow her super.
  • The camera focuses on Lili's clothed butt as she ascends some steps, followed by Walt (the shot is his POV).
  • We see footage from the movie "Blue Velvet" that features a bare-breasted woman.
  • Bernard tells Sophie about Lili's story that chronicles her vagina.
  • Ivan comes down Joan's stairs, implying that the two were sleeping together (when Frank unexpectedly shows up).
  • Some male teens talk about girls and sex, with one saying if he can lose it to one girl, he will. They then talk about if a girl can move her "p*ssy muscles" to "make you blow your load," that maybe a guy can "do them both" and then talk that they bet Lili is good in bed.
  • We see Sophie in her bra (that shows cleavage) as she gives Walt a "hand job" (we see the motion of her arm, but not the actual contact). He looks pained but then orgasms, with her wiping the resultant semen on the bed. He says that he usually lasts longer and she replies that she guesses she can take that as a compliment. Walt then asks if she took off her shirt for another guy, but she doesn't want to talk about it. She eventually says, however, that he felt her up and she touched him, but then says that she's a virgin, with Walt saying he is one as well. He later says they should wait to have sex.
  • After some passionate kissing, Lili tells Bernard (her teacher), "I wondered for a long time what it would be like to f*ck you."
  • We see Frank wiping his semen on some lockers.
  • Bernard tells Walt that maybe Walt should sleep with Sophie once "to see if you like it."
  • Walt asks to go back to Sophie's place and she replies, "You really want to do it, don't you?"
  • Walt stares at Lili crotch in her small shorts.
  • Frank has a condom and lays out a woman's bra and panties. He then tries to put on the condom (we don't see anything explicit), but it falls off.
  • Frank's teacher talks to his parents about the boy masturbating and finding his semen on various things, etc.
  • Bernard tells Lili, "Put me in your mouth" as they stand, clothed and she seems a little resistant as he partially has her shirt up with his hands there. Walt then walks in on them and nothing else happens.
  • Joan tells Walt of her affairs before Bernard, saying "we used to make love in the stockroom."
  • SMOKING
  • Lili smokes once, while some miscellaneous smoking also occurs.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • From start to finish, there's tension within the family that grows as the story unfolds, and includes the following:
  • The boys see their parents verbally fighting.
  • Bernard sleeps on the sofa rather than with Joan.
  • We hear that Bernard was married several times before Joan.
  • The kids hear their parents arguing at night.
  • Bernard hangs up the phone on Joan while she's on it.
  • Bernard and Joan sit down with their boys and then inform them that they're getting separated and will share custody of them (causing Frank to cry). Walt then wonders why she's "screwing this up" and asks if it's because she's now more successful than Bernard.
  • Joan hides various books under a bed so that Bernard won't take them when he moves out.
  • The brothers aren't happy with Bernard's new, but rundown old place that will be their second home with him.
  • Bernard tells Walt that his and Joan's split was because of her having an affair with Richard, her shrink. Later, Walt tells his mom, "You disgust me," prompting her to tell him, "You're being a sh*t."
  • We hear that Joan had other affairs in her past and her kids know this.
  • Frank runs away from home with Bernard to be with Joan, despite that not being his day to be with her.
  • Joan tells Walt that he thinks he hates her, but really doesn't.
  • Frank's teacher talks to his parents about the boy masturbating and finding his semen on various things, etc.
  • Walt asks Joan if she ever loved his dad, and if not, why she put them through this.
  • Bernard tells Joan that he'll sue her over the kids.
  • The family cat escapes out on the street and during the ensuing attempts to catch it, Bernard suddenly collapses on the street (we later hear it was not from a heart attack).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Parental marital issues (divorce, separation, joint custody, etc.) and how they impact the involved kids.
  • The way that Walt and Frank react to their parents getting separated.
  • Affairs and infidelity.
  • Condescending and/or elitist attitudes toward others.
  • Walt taking credit for a song he obviously didn't write.
  • We hear that Bernard was married several times before Joan.
  • Bernard tells Walt that it's good to "play the field" at Walt's age.
  • Sexual relationships between teachers and students.
  • Teenage sexual experimentation.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Frank smacks Walt, prompting Walt to pin his brother to the floor, causing him some pain.
  • Frank throws his ping pong paddle at Bernard when he gets angry playing the game.
  • Joan slaps Walt on the face when he's disrespectful.
  • Lili has a bloody nose after an accidental head-butt with Walt.



  • Reviewed November 2, 2005 / Posted December 2, 2005

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