The Squid and the Whale

Director: Noah Baumbach
Year Released: 2005
Rating: 3.0

Two precocious kids get stuck in the middle of a messy divorce between their struggling writer father (Jeff Daniels) and successful writer mother (Laura Linney) - Dad's a cheap know-it-all and Mom has a problem with sleeping around. Like with Baumbach's now decade-old Kicking and Screaming, this movie is quite proud of its literate smarminess, but what keeps it from being entirely off-putting is the skill of the performers (this is an exceptionally well-acted movie) and witty dialogue, not to mention the use of Tangerine Dream's score to Risky Business to represent the younger brother's 'developing' sexuality, the talent show scene, the younger brother's experimentation with alcohol and William Baldwin as a tennis instructor (!?). The third act is something of a let-down, however, resorting to a cheap metaphor as the final shot (the picture doesn't exactly 'conclude' ... it just stops).