SXSW 2022: ‘I Love My Dad’ Is Torn Between Black Comedy and Family Drama

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I Love My Dad - But Why Tho

I Love My Dad is written and directed by James Morosini, who based the film on his real-life experiences. Franklin Green (Morosini) is recuperating from a suicide attempt and decides to set some boundaries for himself by cutting ties with his father, Chuck (Patton Oswalt). Desperate to reconnect with his son, Chuck creates a new Facebook profile and impersonates the waitress named Becca (Claudia Sulewski) at a cafe he frequents. An online relationship begins, and Franklin falls for “Becca” even asking Chuck to drive him cross-country so he can see her. Chuck has to navigate an escalating web of lies while also attempting to repair his relationship with his son.

I’m a sucker for films that dig into father/son relationships, whether it’s indie fare or action-packed blockbusters like The Adam Project. That being said, the premise of this film is wild. Essentially dating your son, just so you can spend time with him? The audience’s mileage is going to vary based on whether or not they’re willing to go along with the ride. Unfortunately, said ride peters out after the inevitable reveal, which lacks the emotional catharsis that’s usually baked into the indie/coming-of-age drama. Especially since the plot is dealing with a father who commits an insanely selfish act that might tip his son’s mental state over the edge.

It’s a shame, because Morosini doesn’t shy away from the more disturbing elements of the film’s central relationships. He even employs a nifty visual device to really highlight how messed up this all is. Throughout the film, when Franklin has conversations with “Becca,” Sulewski actually appears alongside Morosini, and the two have enough chemistry that you almost forget that Franklin’s dad is really the one texting him. And in case you didn’t think it could get any weirder, there’s a sexting scene that nearly melted my mind from the sheer insanity that was on screen. This brings up one of the film’s biggest issues; it’s never really sure whether it wants to be a pitch-black comedy or a road trip drama. The end results are scenes that might give the audience emotional whiplash.

The only person who knows what movie he’s in is Oswalt, who plays Chuck as the pathetic, needy man he is. This isn’t Oswalt’s first time playing a horrible father (see: M.O.D.O.K.) but here it hits different because he’s not willing to confront his flaws. A key example of this comes during the opening credits. Chuck leaves a multitude of calls promising to spend time with Franklin and then immediately backs out. Thankfully, the rest of the cast, especially Lil Rel Howery as Chuck’s coworker, who rightfully calls what Chuck is doing “incest,” are willing to call Chuck out on his bull. Oswalt and Morosini also have great chemistry, to the point where you believe they’re actually father and son. An emotional scene where Chuck comforts a distraught Franklin will tug at the audience’s heartstrings.

I Love My Dad is willing to embrace its insane premise to a certain point, but it can’t decide if it wants to be a black comedy or a drama. This film may not be for everyone, but if you do watch it, make sure your parents aren’t in the room. Otherwise, you’ll be in for an extremely awkward experience.

I Love My Dad had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival 2022.


I Love My Dad
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

I Love My Dad is willing to embrace its insane premise to a certain point, but it can’t decide if it wants to be a black comedy or a drama. This film may not be for everyone, but if you do watch it, make sure your parents aren’t in the room. Otherwise, you’ll be in for an extremely awkward experience.