LFF Review: I Love My Dad

Film Review of I Love My Dad from BFI London Film Festival 2022 starring Patton Oswalt and James Morosini

DIRECTED BY

James Morosini

STARRING

Patton Oswalt, James Morosini, Claudia Sulewski, Rachel Dratch, Ricky Velez, Lil Rel Howery and Amy Landecker

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SYNOPSIS

A hopelessly estranged father catfishes his son in an attempt to reconnect.

I Love My Dad is written and directed by James Morosini. Inspired by James Morosini’s true life experience, the film focuses on Chuck, an estranged father who desperately wants to reconnect with his troubled son, Franklin. Blocked on social media and concerned for his son’s life, Chuck impersonates a waitress online and starts checking in with Franklin. But things begin to spiral when Franklin falls for this imaginary girl and wants nothing more than to meet her in person, as Chuck has inadvertently catfished his own son.

I Love My Dad is a film with a rather absurd premise behind it – just how would a father go in order to keep a connection going with a son who wants nothing to do with them? Morosini wastes no time in showing the audience the reasoning behind Franklin cutting his father from his life with a series of voicemail messages during the title credits, as Chuck keeps making up excuses for no showing up in particular moments of Franklin’s life. We then find Franklin at the end of his group therapy session, learn that he tried to commit suicide, and also see for ourselves just how awkward he is talking with the opposite sex. Then Chuck gets a lightbulb idea when talking with his co-worker, Jimmy, about how he pretended to be someone else to keep tabs on his ex, leading to Chuck pretending to be Becca, someone at a local diner that served him earlier that day, in order to befriend Franklin. While initially skeptical of this new friend request that he’s received, the conversations lead to Franklin feeling a deeper connection with Becca, thus leading to him to ask ‘Becca’ to be his girlfriend.

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This is cringe comedy of the highest form, as Chuck goes to great lengths to keep up the façade, such as using his own girlfriend to pretend to be Becca in order to maintain that connection with his son, as well as commit to a ‘kiss’ via text form, and another scene that, well, would just have to be seen to be believed in how it is executed as writing it out would take too long and not serve it justice. While there are plenty of cringe moments played for laughs, Morosini does try to bring some heart and warmth to some scenes, particularly in how Franklin is talking to Becca (visually) and begins to become more open as a result of it. Whilst there is some tender moments in the film, some are cut off to give audiences the expectations/reality in effectively humorous fashion, such as how magical the ‘kiss’ appears for Franklin, whilst for Chuck we get a nightmarish image.

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Unfortunately with the buildup of how crazy and wrong that Chuck’s actions are pointed out to be, I felt that the film didn’t stick the landing in the end. It’s an interesting role for Patton Oswalt to play, this unlikable character in Chuck, with this complex view of what he’s doing, he believes he’s doing it with good intentions, and I thought Oswalt give a great performance in the role. It’s definitely something different from Oswalt and he’ll definitely be getting some attention this festival circuit with this role. This is the first work I’ve seen from Morosini, and I thought he gave a really good performance as Franklin, and his direction is solid throughout. Claudia Sulewski also gives a good performance as Becca, providing two different personalities, one being the diner worker that Chuck steals the identity of and that of the girl that Franklin dreams of.

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VERDICT

I Love My Dad is a film with an interesting premise that will maintain your attention with both the performances of Patton Oswalt and James Morosini. The film overall however will depend on your sense of humour to the cringe comedy that unfolds. For me, I thought it was okay, but felt that the film was too neatly wrapped up in the end.

★★★