Combustible Celluloid Review - I Love My Dad (2022), James Morosini, James Morosini, Patton Oswalt, James Morosini, Claudia Sulewski, Amy Landecker, Lil Rel Howery, Rachel Dratch
Combustible Celluloid
With: Patton Oswalt, James Morosini, Claudia Sulewski, Amy Landecker, Lil Rel Howery, Rachel Dratch
Written by: James Morosini
Directed by: James Morosini
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content and language
Running Time: 95
Date: 08/05/2022

I Love My Dad (2022)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Catfish Fry

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This misguided, disturbing, squirm-inducing dark comedy certainly took a certain amount of courage to make, but the result is icky, cruel, and unfunny, and ultimately without much of a point.

Chuck (Patton Oswalt) is estranged from his son, Franklin (James Morosini), who has grown up nursing a host of mental health problems. As a form of therapy, Franklin blocks his dad on Facebook. Chuck, who seems to have been absent from much of Franklin's life, desperately wants to stay in touch.

He decides to steal pictures from the account of a pretty diner server, Becca (Claudia Sulewski), and create a fake account. Despite it all being too good to be true, Franklin chats regularly with the fake Becca, and even begins to fall in love. When Chuck is tapped to drive Franklin to meet her in person, he must figure out how to keep his fragile lie from falling apart.

Written and directed by James Morosini — who also stars as the son, Franklin — I Love My Dad is said to be based on a true story, which doesn't exactly help things. Despite horrified reactions from supporting characters played by Lil Rel Howery and Rachel Dratch, the movie doesn't quite seem to have a grip on just how despicable this act of catfishing really is. It's not only about a father playing with his fragile son's emotions in a selfish and vicious way, but it's also about a man who takes advantage of an innocent woman by stealing her identity.

By telling the story from this unforgivable character's point of view — rather than the victim's — the movie falls into a trap. It's similar in many ways to World's Greatest Dad, in which the father uses his dead son (who was a horrible person) to resurrect his writing career, but there was no real victim in that, and the crime wasn't abysmally terrible.

It came across as genuinely dark and funny, while I Love My Dad is structured like a standard "lie comedy," in which we simply wait until the lie is revealed, followed by the fallout, and a potential redemption, which — either way — is unearned and unsatisfying. If only the movie had been about something, either the evils of the world wide web, or a genuine look at family relationships, but it seems more interested in pushing buttons.

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