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The Squid and the Whale Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Allison Benedikt

    Steering clear of phony melodrama and indie pretense, Baumbach captures a crisis in one family's life that, though it shakes the foundation, leaves all four Berkmans drifting toward highs and lows unknown, each of them only dimly aware that, no matter what the movies tell us, we never really come of age.

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  • 40

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The absence of any nuance in the father's character bespeaks the filmmaker's unwillingness to trust his audience. Making the movie may have been therapeutic for him, but I can't say the same about watching it.

  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The young actors' performances are particularly haunting.

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  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    In hovering, The Squid and the Whale becomes its own realistic display of family entropy, as cautionary as it is educational.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

not for kids

A family falls apart -- for adults only.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a film for mature viewers, dealing with difficult emotional and moral themes. The family members are hurtful to one another, by deceit, betrayal, quarreling, and spitefulness. Characters smoke occasionally and drink frequently (an underage child drinks beer); one character vomits in a toilet. Most of the sexual content is narrated, as characters describe personal histories and desires, often with graphic language (slang for genitals, frequent uses of the f-word). Some characters engage in sexual activity (a college student kisses her teacher, young couple kisses, mom has affair with tennis pro, a shot from Blue Velvet shows breasts, a young boy masturbates on library books, wipes his semen on a locker, tries on a condom). Some minor violence, including brothers fighting, a wife slapping her estranged husband, an accidental bloody nose.

  • Families can talk about the ways this family deals with pain and betrayal: how do the academic parents miss their sons' emotional strains? How do the father's high standards put pressure on his children? How might the kids (eventually) come together in their efforts to survive their difficult situation?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Parents are cruel to one another.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Some slapping, fighting, and emotionally distressed interactions.

  • sex false5

    Sex: Heavy sexual content, in verbal and visual forms (language includes slang for genitals and activity); masturbation by a young boy, who also tries on a condom; parents engage in adulterous affairs and talk about them; teacher tries to seduce his female student.

  • language false5

    Language: Frequent uses of the f-word, plus sexual slang, s-word, "damn," "ass."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Frequent drinking and some smoking.