“The following actually happened. My Dad asked me to tell you it didn’t.”
I remember recently reading in the famous Reddit thread, “Am I the Asshole,” about a sister who catfished her younger sister in order to protect her from a guy. Is catfishing justifiable if the act is to help someone, or if the catfisher, in the scenario, believes that they’re helping? Well, that ethical line of good or bad may not be so clear. Take the true story of writer and director James Morosini and his Dad, for instance.
I Love My Dad takes place as Franklin (Morosini) leaves a mental health institution upon having just had a brush with suicide, leaving his mother (Amy Landecker) cautiously concerned for his well-being. As part of his therapy, he’s decided to set “emotional boundaries” beginning with his father, Chuck (Patton Oswalt). Chuck is distanced, not totally absent, but missing from the big moments enough to let Franklin know he doesn’t care. Franklin blocks his father on Facebook and phone, which crushes Chuck. He realizes it’s the final straw, but almost losing his son made him want to become closer. However, it may just be too late to repair the relationship.
At work, Chuck cannot hide his sorrow. It’s then that his coworker Jimmy (Lil Rel Howery) gives him an idea about making a secret account—one that Franklin won’t recognize. The lightbulb doesn’t fully brighten until Chuck meets a young waitress at a diner named Becca (Claudia Sulewski). He finds Becca’s Facebook, saves her pictures to his computer, uploads said pictures to a new Facebook profile, and voila! Chuck is Becca. Once he “friends” his son, the rest is history. Franklin’s simple friendship soon develops into an infatuation with the fake Becca. He can finally talk to someone who understands him. Open up and not be afraid of who he is, or if she’s going to judge him. All the while, it’s the Dad that’s saying all these loving things to him.
I have a feeling that this isn’t the first time that Morosini (who plays the version of himself in the film) has told this story. At bars drinking with his friends, or at work, this true story must have gotten passed around for its over-the-top absurdity. What Dad would catfish his son? I know it’s a rather strange tale to tell, but there’s a rather Mrs. Doubtfire-esque vibe to it. Chuck isn’t the best father, by any definition of the word. And in the wake of his son’s suicide, desperate to be there for him, he created a fake account so he could make amends. By doing so, manifested a father figure that he should’ve always been in the first place.
I Love My Dad really begins to take off when the father and son duo set out on a road trip. In an effort to finally see Becca, Franklin, desperate for a ride, gets Chuck to take him. Oswalt who plays Chuck is at his best in this Dad role. He’s both hilarious and equal parts dramatic. He and Morosini are perfect together as their comedy is in sync—Chuck desperately trying not to be found out as Franklin is constantly Facebook messaging in the car. But some of the crazier moments come when it gets down to what we’ll call “naughty stuff” involving Rachel Dratch, which makes me miss seeing her on television and movies. But like all secretive movies of this type, it all comes to a chaotic end.
I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie—how much I laughed out loud. If you’re hesitant with the subject matter, as was I when I first read it, don’t be. You’ll miss out on some genuinely funny stuff. Morosini is a promising comedic writer and director that we’ll definitely see more of in the future. I Love My Dad is sweet… in a weird, creepy sort of way, but sweet, nonetheless.
I Love My Dad
Written and Directed by: James Morosini
Starring: James Morosini, Patton Oswalt, Rachel Dratch, Claudia Sulewski, Amy Landecker, and Lil Rel Howery