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I Love My Dad (2022)
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Film

I Love My Dad is a Super-Uncomfortable Tale of Fathers and Sons 

A hopelessly estranged father catfishes his son in an attempt to reconnect.

SXSW: I Love You Dad Review

Patton Oswalt is one of the most social media-savvy of all famous people, so it’s perhaps apropos that he’s starring in an off-the-moment dark comedy about the dark side of social media. 

That film is I Love My Dad, a fitfully funny and very uncomfortable comedy that’s built on a great idea, although the execution is a bit hit-and-miss. Call it Mrs. Doubtfire, only with catfishing. 

James Morosini wrote and directed the film, reportedly based on something that his own father once did to him. Morosini also co-stars as Franklin, a lonely and troubled young guy who’s long been estranged from his father Chuck (Oswalt), and recently was hospitalized after a suicide attempt. 

Chuck, horrified to learn that his son has blocked him on Facebook, comes up with the cockamamie scheme of catfishing his own son by posing as a girlfriend, based on the photo of a diner waitress (Claudia Sulewski.)  Eventually, Chuck manipulates the situation to give his son a ride to see the girlfriend. Sure, it ends their estrangement, but since the girlfriend isn’t real, it’s bound to end very badly. 

It may seem unrealistic that the son would fall for such an obviously fake scheme, but then again he’s not doing many things that Manti T’eo didn’t do, or most of the people in the actual Catfish movie or TV show. Still, the son apparently doesn’t know how to use Google Image Search, even though he’s seeking employment as a coder. 

Lil Rel Howley has a very amusing supporting role as Chuck’s voice of reason friend, who’s pretty much the only honorable person in the movie. Also on board is SNL alum Rachel Dratch, as Oswalt’s horndog girlfriend, and Amy Landecker as Franklin’s mother and Chuck’s ex-wife. 

But the film ultimately doesn’t work. It might be because the scheme is just too callous, and too horrifying, that it never comes back around to being funny. I also think that World’s Greatest Dad, Bobcat Goldthwait’s 2010 movie with Robin Williams, was a better version of the same thing. 

  • Stephen Silver

South by Southwest celebrates the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. Follow our coverage all month!

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist and film critic based in the Philadelphia area. He is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and a Rotten Tomatoes-listed critic since 2008, and his work has appeared in New York Press, Philly Voice, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet, The Times of Israel, and RogerEbert.com. In 2009, he became the first American journalist to interview both a sitting FCC chairman and a sitting host of "Jeopardy" on the same day.

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