Squid and the Whale, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1

Content: -3

This comedic drama looks at the unraveling lives of the Berkmans, a dysfunctional family living in Brooklyn in 1986. Bernard (Jeff Daniels) is a washed-up, middle-aged writer getting a divorce from Joan (Laura Linney), whose career is beginning to blossom. While their two boys, Walt (Jesse Eisenberg), 16, and Frank (Owen Kline), 12, are struggling with the difficulties of adolescence, Joan has an affair with Franks tennis coach and Bernard sleeps with a college girl that Walt is making a play for. With their parents divorce under way, the boys are shuffled back and forth between the self-centered, squabbling adults. As a result of poor parental role models, the boys must learn lifes lessons alone and find themselves in compromising situations, both academically and relationally. In trying to escape the painful realities of life, they transport themselves back to the days when life was simpler and happier.Heres a snapshot of two adults, who care more about themselves than those around them, and the ugly results that transpire. Each parent lacks the ability to communicate love to the other and does not consider the consequences of his and her bad behavior. The extremely competitive Bernard, while playing tennis with the family, hits the ball directly at his wife trying to hit her so that he can win. While beating his son at ping-pong, he gloats. After the separation, he wants the boys to stay with him only so he wont be lonely. A frank and often sexually graphic look at this familys failure makes this film difficult to watch. The consequences of bad behavior are clearly illustrated, demonstrating how a family should not act. Extreme bad language and sexually explicit content earn this one a no go from Preview.

Preview Reviewer: Alan Boyer
Independent Distribution/Samuel Goldwyn Films

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several (6) times mild (damn 2); strong (-ss 3, SOB 1)

Obscene Language: Many (36) times strong (f-word 24, s-word 6, finger gesture 1, d-ck 1, other 4)

Profanity: Several (7) times moderate (G 1); strong (GD 4, J 2)

Violence: Several times mild (boy hits his brother as they fight, man hits woman with tennis ball, mother smacks boys face, boy hits girl in face accidentally with his head)

Sex: Few times moderate (girl fondles boy, boy self-gratification twice, man has hand up womans blouse)

Nudity: Few times mild (woman in bra); moderate (woman shown from the waist up nude)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several times mild (father counsels son to sleep with girl, mother tells son of her first sexual experience); strong (teens talk about having unconventional sex with two girls)

Drugs: Few times mild (12-year-old drinks beer and liquor a few times); moderate (boy gets sick from drinking alcohol)

Other: None

Running Time: 90 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.