The Squid and the Whale

Ah the Squid and the Whale, darling of the coming of age family comedy drama circuit. Probably. People seem to like this movie. I am not sure I liked it as much as other people did. It follows a family through a turbulent break up, the children (two boys) find their loyalties split between their very nice, caring, successful mother, and their absolute shit of a father. Really, I can’t see why this is a good storyline. I mean, how much of a shit this guy is, it’s out of this world. He does some things which are just everyday kinds of shit, like he is a crap cook, doesn’t care about the family cat and is a bit of a sleezeball. But then he does some other higher level stuff like being arrogant, pretentious, and unfeeling, the trifecta of doom when twinned with a lack of success, jealousy and cheapness. I mean, this is where the comedy comes from, but I couldn’t get my head around the fact that the film treats the mother, and the son who sides with her in the split-down-the-middle family divide, with the same sense of ambivalence as the shit father and the shit son. It is almost like we are supposed to think that the dysfunction is everyone’s fault, that it’s normal and that everyone can get through it if they just love each other. They can’t, everyone’s lives would be better if the father went and lived in a cave. The film has one stand out performance though from Owen Kline as Frank, the youngest son, whose problems manifest the most obviously, but the most charmingly. If you want to watch a family very quietly and systematically torn apart by one man, this is the movie for you. Did I mention the dad is a squid and the mother is a whale?

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