#SXSW: “I LOVE MY DAD”
By David Baldwin
Patton Oswalt is Chuck, an estranged father who always seems to have an excuse for not being able to spend time with his son Franklin (James Morosini). Following a rehab stint after a suicide attempt, Franklin cuts his Dad off and blocks Chuck from contacting him. Concerned and wanting to reconnect, Chuck makes a fake Facebook account posing as a local waitress named Becca (Claudia Sulewski) in order to speak to his son. When Franklin starts getting more than a little casually invested in Becca, Chuck must figure out how to tell his son that he has been catfishing him all along.
What ensues is just as cringe-worthy and awkward as you might expect from such an unusual storyline. On the flip side though, that is exactly what enriches this tale – based at least partially on a true story involving Writer/Director Morosini and his actual father – and makes it feel so genuine and lived in. You can feel the palpable sense of grief and regret in Oswalt’s acting choices, and you can visibly see the damage it has inflicted on Morosini’s character. It is gut-wrenching stuff, even if you are acutely aware of the humour that these two and the wonderful Supporting Cast (including Sulewski, Lil Rel Howery, Amy Landecker and SNL alum Rachel Dratch) are attempting to tap into. Though it leads to a few gross-out jokes that take away from the Film’s poignancy, I appreciated Morosini’s text message motif of having the characters actually talk and interact with each other physically rather than just hear their voices or read what they are saying.
Speaking as someone who has a tumultuous relationship with their father (and desperately hopes to not repeat the same behaviour with my own son), I LOVE MY DAD is an emotional experience that will have you laughing, crying and cringing all at the same time. There is a bit more depth I hoped it would mine, but the cast Morosini has put together here do their very best to treat this storyline with the humour and realism it deserves. And even though he has always been a spectacular supporting player, Oswalt really shines here – pulling out the same kind of nuanced work he did in the underappreciated Young Adult. His performance here is even better, and may just be his best work yet.
I LOVE MY DAD screens at SXSW ’22 as follows:
Saturday, March 12 at 2:30PM EST – Alamo Lamar D
Sunday, March 13 at 4:30PM EST – Violet Crown Cinema 1
Sunday, March 13 at 5:00PM EST – Violet Crown Cinema 3
Friday, March 18 at 4:45PM EST – ZACH Theatre
Sunday, March 13 at 10:00AM EST – Available for 48 Hours