The Squid And The Whale

Adam's life in 20 years…

by Dan Angell


Near the end of the movie, Walt hands a cat to his father, Bernard to keep him company. The cat escapes and Bernard has a heart attack while trying to catch it…but we never see what becomes of the cat. A tragedy for sure, because the cat was the only character I gave a damn about for the entire movie. The other characters were so unentertaining and unlikable that I hated ever second they spoke. Desperately I waited, in vain, for each to kill themselves, but they never did. They just kept bitching. They bitched and bitched and bitched and bitched and bitched.

Perhaps I should explain.

The story revolves around Bernard Berkman, (Jeff Daniels) as he suffers through his post-divorce life. His ex-wife Joan (Laura Linney) and he have a particularly contentious relationship, especially in regards to their kids, youngest son Walt, and older son and the creeptastic emo kid extraordinare, Frank.

Now I could go into detail about the story, or lack there-of, and how apparently the critics and consumers alike who raved about this movie were able to move past the abysmal attempt by the film makers at turning what would otherwise just be a depressing group of people with a crappy life into an hour and a half of plotless movie with no resolution…about a depressing group of people with a crappy life.

You see this movie was apparently intended to be a movie with a story moved solely by the characters. But the characters are so detestable that you don't want to see what happens to them next. The characters are:

Bernard, a professor of English, who is living with a 20 year old student, along with having joint custody of his two sons, one of whom has a crush on the student he lives with. This man managed to put forth so much effort into his work for the first 17 years of his son's life, that his son cannot recall where his dad was during his childhood, saying, "I don't know, maybe he was downstairs."

Joan, Bernard's ex-wife who lives with her new husband, Ivan (William Baldwin), who is the "emotionally sympathetic" parent to her kids. It's too bad she cheated on her husband for years before she finally divorcing him. Not to mention the emotional damage she did to her son, Frank, who resents her.

Walt, the alcoholic 10 year old son of Bernard, who hates his dad. Enough said.

Frank, who resents his mom, has a crush on his dad's young girlfriend, and makes his own girlfriend and her family hate him by being a creepy jackass who copy's a Pink Floyd song, tries to pass it off as his own, and justifies it by saying, "I could have written it."

Ivan…no one cares.

Apparently this movie is somewhat biographical of a real man, Jonathan Baumbach, and the movie is made by his son, Noah. Clearly they have resolved their issues.

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