Inspired by writer, director, and star James Morosini’s real life experience, I Love My Dad follows Chuck (Patton Oswalt), a hopelessly estranged father who desperately wants to reconnect with his troubled son, Franklin (Morosini). Chuck impersonates a girl, Becca, online and starts checking in with Franklin, but things begin to spiral when Franklin falls for this imaginary girl (Claudia Sulewski) and wants nothing more than to meet her in person.
Using his true story as the foundation for this feature film, Morosini has allowed an audience to reflect on their own truths about their parents without us realising until the credits roll. Not everyone has a great relationship with the people who are meant to raise them, but this script has allowed a father to be heard for the madness he caused. Sure, it’s a bizarre thing to do, but we can begin to understand the reasons behind the choices, and that’s one of the reasons I think this film is brilliant. Instead of just focusing on his own side of the story, Morosini wants to see inside his father’s mind and give him a chance to give his side. As an audience, this means that we go on a journey with both characters, and ultimately have a hard time choosing who is right and who is wrong. As I mentioned, it lets us see into the relationships we have with our own parents, and how there is always a reason behind the sadness, uncertainty, and choices they decide to make. We can be as flawed as them but at the end of the day, want them to know it’s ok to say sorry for the mistakes they’ve made.
Hitting the right line between comedy and shock is something that Morosini can do incredibly well. I love his choice to have the character of Becca appear alongside Franklin as they’re texting, really amplifying the messages that Chuck is sending to his son, and how often his wording makes the conversation pause, and the audience are left wondering if this will be the moment that Franklin realises the truth. Becca is bought beautifully to life by Claudia Sulewski, in her breakout acting role. She’s calm yet energetic, with emphasised expressions to match her comic timing, really creating the perfect girl in Franklin’s eyes. To then see her play the Becca that inspired Chuck, Sulewski brilliantly shows raw emotion and confusion, proving that she’s more than just the girl next door and can play so much more.
I’m a fan of the TV show Catfish. I love how dramatic it is, often leaving me wondering how people can be so stupid to do and believe certain things. Due to this, I was really intrigued to watch this film based on the themes but was honestly left surprised by my feelings towards the characters of Franklin and Chuck, and how I could understand both sides and how easy it can be to fall down a rabbit hole like this. Patton Oswalt is the perfect choice to play desperate father Chuck due to his loving nature and believable performance. We understand his choices, even if they’re not always in his son’s best interest, and feel for the life he’s living. His comedy acting is genius, truly putting his whole body into how he is feeling to help portray this to an audience. Morosini has decided to star in this near autobiographical film as well as write and direct it, which allows us to fully see how someone really did fall for their dad catfishing them. His acting style allows us to sit back and fully believe the character in front of us, in both the moments of pure joy and breakdown. I understand the pain and reasons why he’d turn to a friend online, making Morosini’s film one to laugh at, but also learn from.
Uncomfortable comedy is hard to get right, but I Love My Dad has been able to make me laugh out loud, cheer for a catfish, and begin to feel a forgiveness and understanding to the kind-hearted yet crazy things that people decide to do. This is a film to watch with friends, possibly after a good trauma dump, where you want to relate to the idea that truth isn’t always stranger than fiction (but really, it absolutely is).
I Love My Dad will be available on Digital Download from 23rd January and can be pre-ordered here.