To be catfished: lure (someone) into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona. Now what happens if your dad is the one catfishing you? That’s the based-on-a-true-story basis for James Morosini’s funny, heartfelt, wildly entertaining I Love My Dad starring Patton Oswalt in the titular role as dad … or as Becca, if you will.
Franklin (Morosini) is a troubled young man, dealing with mental health issues, no drivers license and an absentee father (Oswalt) Chuck who lies his way through life. Flipping the perspective from himself to his father, Morosini tells this bizarre story from his father’s point of view. Wanting to reconnect with his son after many failed attempts at friending him on Facebook, Chuck uses a photo of a beautiful local waitress and creates a fake profile. Click – he friends his own son and starts chatting away.
In an old-school way of filmmaking with that waiting-for-things-to-implode feeling that keeps you engaged for 90 minutes, I Love My Dad hits all the right beats of storytelling. You’re shocked, you’re amused, you’re sad, you’re empathetic, you’re horrified – all the emotions that both the script and Patton Oswalt make you feel. The casting is perfect at every turn, with an endearing Morosini in the leading role, playing a character (quite literally) only he could play. Claudia Sulewski has the not-so-easy job of bringing Chuck’s text message to life and nails the comedic timing beat after beat; as fake “Becca” she is a standout in I Love My Dad. Amy Landecker co-stars as Franklin’s rightfully concerned mother, balancing the tough job of being happy and nervous for her emotionally fragile son.
In a sea of depressing films and blockbuster franchises, this comedy is both refreshing and nostalgic. It’s an old-school style with hijinx and gasps and belly laughter – and based on the reaction of the sold-out crowd at the Chicago Critics Film Festival closing night … it’s one really good time.