I’m not a parent, but I have seen how complicated relationships between parent and their children can actually be. There is a sheer desperation that fuels those relationships, even to point of creepiness and absurdity. And that’s where writer-director-star James Morosini’s deeply uncomfortable but strangely sweet I Love My Dad comes in.
Patton Oswalt stars as Chuck, a sad sack father who always comes up with excuses for not spending time with his estranged son Franklin (played by Morosini, based on his own real-life story). You see, Franklin has serious issues of his own, having been to a mental health facility after a recent suicide attempt. This is probably due to loneliness and/or conflicts with Chuck. In order to get his life back on track, Franklin blocks Chuck on social media. Desperate to reconnect with him, Chuck creates a fake account and pretends to be Becca (Claudia Sulewski), this beautiful waitress who works at the restaurant he routinely visits. He basically catfishes his own son, much to the dismay of co-worker/friend Jimmy (Lil Ray Howery) and eventually his no-nonsense girlfriend Erica (Rachel Dratch).
At first it all starts working out and being successful, where Chuck gets to know Franklin by each tweet. However, when Franklin falls in love with Becca and wants to meet her, that’s when things get really bonkers and go off the rails, especially when he agrees to drive Franklin across country to meet her, knowing that this could all lead to disaster and end their father and son relationship for good.
I actually loved this film, despite its icky subject matter. There are some really awkward moments, especially the fact that when Franklin is sexting Becca, he’s really doing so with Chuck, HIS FATHER!!! But it’s darkly hilarious and has its heart in the right place, so you really can’t fault it that much. Oswalt is really stellar at playing a character that’s so selfish but lovable at the same time. He means well (for better or worse). It might just be the best role he’s ever played. Howery, in his few scenes, is great because he’s basically the audience, meaning that he’s the voice of reason, telling Chuck that he should stop what’s he doing because he’s going way too far. Dratch definitely steals her scenes as Erica breaks Chuck down to size and is the catalyst for the consequences that happen later in the film. The real revelation is Morosini. He plays himself quite well and gives a performance of aching depth and sensitivity, giving the film a much-needed sense of reality (it is from his real-life story after all).
It’s not a film for everyone and it’s probably to elicit some negative reactions, but if you’re a fan of uneasy comedy, then you’re bound to enjoy it.