The Whale Flounders Through an Obvious Moby Dick Metaphor

The Stream: The fat suit and makeup are not very good.

The Big Screen: Hong Chau and Brendan Fraser have some good scenes.

The Final Bill: Extreme melodrama with bad acting making it worse.

– Trip Fontaine
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writers: Samuel D. Hunter
Stars: Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, Samantha Morton
Genre: Drama
Rating: R for language, some drug use and sexual content.
Runtime: 1 hour 52 minutes
Production Companies: A24, Protozoa Pictures
Platform: In theaters
Notable Trailers: Chevalier, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Women Talking, 80 for Brady, Infinity Pool, Knock at the Cabin, Showing Up, Close

Hey, Streamers! I hope you had a good holiday and you’re ready for some more awards hopefuls. I was able to get to a theater to catch The Whale. I’ve been hearing a lot about an awards-worthy performance and comeback from everyone’s favorite man from Encino, Brendan Fraser. Here’s whether the performance and the movie around it live up to the hype. (Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t)

Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream) directed the The Whale, which is based on a play by the same person who wrote the screenplay, Samuel D. Hunter. Brendan Fraser plays Charlie, a 600-pound man who is attempting to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink), in his final week of life. Charlie has one friend, Liz (Hong Chau), who provides some care for him but she also enables his worst impulses at times. Other characters pop in and out of Charlie’s cloistered apartment as he fumbles through teaching an online writing course while binge-eating himself to death. A barrel of laughs ensues, he said sarcastically.

The Whale desperately wants to be a tearjerker. Charlie is set up as a tragic figure, and the movie tells the audience that Charlie knocking on deaths door. Everything about this character says pity this man. The problem is that the movie is so overwrought that it leads towards the comical. The worst offense is the poor makeup job and fat suit that Brendan Fraser is encased it. On top of that, Brendan Fraser is doing the absolute most – and not in a good way – with his performance. He desperately wants that Oscar with the way he screams and cries throughout this melodramatic bore. Also, there is a bad performance by Sadie Sink as the angsty teenager. She is the worst person in the world, and Sink does nothing to humanize her. Both Charlie and Ellie become caricatures, which is ultimately very tiresome and off-putting.

There really isn’t much else to The Whale. It is a movie that is very obviously based on a play since it is stuck in one location and characters come in and out of the scene. This material may work better on the stage than on the big screen, but the screenplay is pretty bad. The obvious metaphor with Moby Dick, which Charlie references constantly throughout, is so annoying that if you are not rolling your eyes by the end then you are better than me.

The one saving grace is that Hong Chau shows up every now and then and does her best to bring some real life to the film. In the scenes with Chau and Fraser, there is good chemistry, and there is a glimpse of the heartfelt and sensitive film that could have been.

S2S: Official Rating Scale

Ultimately, The Whale is extremely melodramatic. Fraser goes for every Oscar clip he can and only lands a few when Chau is around. The fat suit is off-putting and Sadie Sink is bad throughout the movie. There is a small speck of a decent idea here, but not enough to make a trip to the theater worthwhile. Stream if bored, at best. One popped kernel.