Franklin (James Morosini, also the film’s director and writer) imagines his ‘girlfriend’ Becca (Claudia Sulewski) dancing beside him while he jogs on a suburban cul-de-sac. He feels her presence everywhere even if they only know each other online. If it sounds sketchy, it’s because it actually is sketchy because as it turns out, Becca is actually Franklin’s dad, Chuck (Patton Oswalt). Let’s back up a little bit. Franklin and Chuck have a relationship so bad that it may be the reason the former gains suicidal ideation. Franklin’s way to heal is to strengthen his relationship with his mother (Amy Landecker). But also, to block the most toxic person in his life in all of his social media accounts, and he thinks that person is Chuck.
Chuck obviously thinks irrationally after Franklin blocks him. He feels like his only move is pretend to be someone else to keep in touch with Franklin. Morosini got the idea for his film I Love My Dad from a real thing that his father did to him. And there’s enough time between Frank and Morosini to turn that experience into a cringe incest comedy with seemingly conventional images. Brave, I could never. Anyway, of all the films that make my pseudo intellectual brain turns, I did not expect it to be this one. The film inadvertently becomes a critique on ugh, the male gaze. Women are sentient beings but Abrahamic society allows men to apply these fictions upon women.
There’s many levels of fiction on Becca, the first being one that Franklin imagines. There’s also the Becca that Chuck impersonates. He does this with the help of his coworker (Lil Rel Howery) and his girlfriend (Rachel Dratch). And then there’s the real one who we see three times in the film. The fake one is obviously more prominent here. The film then follows Chuck and Franklin as the latter convinces the former to drive him to Maine to meet the real Becca. It also follows Chuck as he loses his prime directive of using Becca as a way to check on Franklin.
Chuck then feels like he has to turn Becca as the object of affection of a very horny straight guy in his twenties. A sexting scene makes for competent cringe fest. It allows Sulewski to be comedic as Chuck slips up while again pretending to be Becca. It also shows promise in Morosini’s filmmaking as he directs this scene as well as others that involve many moving parts. In that sext scene, he juggles four actors and three locations competently. Simpler scenes also showcase supporting cast members like Howery. These actors fit into the world that Morosini fleshes out. One where people look real even if the things they do feel unreal.
Catch I Love My Dad on select Canadian cities.