I LOVE MY DAD Is A Twisted (And Fun) Look At Empathy

For many viewers, cinema can be a form of therapy. Film allows its audience to work through certain issues in our lives without necessarily confronting them directly. The same can be said for filmmakers on the other side of the screen. And this inverse therapy is exactly what appears in James Morosini’s feature, I Love My Dad. Inspired by Morosini’s relationship with his father and the real life events that occurred after a falling out between the two, this film feels completely earnest in its delivery. Sure, many moments are played comedically, and they work so well to the point that holding back laughter seems impossible. Yet, if this is a way of therapy for Morosini telling his story, sometimes it’s best to try and laugh through the pain rather than succumb to it. With its empathetic core, I Love My Dad is able to make light of a deeply twisted situation in the hopes of coming out stronger on the other side.

Perhaps what this film does best is that it gets into the headspace of both father and son. Rather than take the easy way out, it’s clear that Morosini grappled with how to understand this situation his father placed them into. With Patton Oswalt in the role of Morosini’s father, adding what Morosini calls “discomfort comedy” into this situation works like a charm. Oswalt is able to imbue some comic relief to the desperation at the heart of his reasoning, and it’s a wonderful way to ease the uncomfortable tension of it all… sex scenes included. In a statement regarding the film, Morosini said “[The film] could turn quickly dark, so we often found ourselves playing on a razor’s edge”. At no point in I Love My Dad does it feel that Morosini is angry at his father, but rather, a bit confused. Through this method, there’s less judgement placed on his father. More importantly, there’s an emphasis on a necessity to understand. It’s one of the many great elements this film manages to pull off that separates it from its counterparts.

The concept of catfishing is inherently a fascinating one. Immensely popularized and brought to the public in 2010 due to the documentary Catfish, it can be an issue that is often trivialized. Some may believe common sense has to fall to the wayside in order to fall victim to this, yet I Love My Dad breaks this belief. Instead, it shows how somebody could easily stumble into such a trap, not out of naivety, bit out of a simply human need for companionship. Living in the social media age has obviously had an outstanding impact on societal behavior. With the situation Morosini found himself in, he is able to cinematically depict the impact of social media in a way that is both comedic and intelligent. The digital space can easily bridge the gap between two people, whether real or not. When confronted with damaging loneliness or this bridge of hope, it’s no surprise as to why some may choose to go down the latter path with blinders. And with Morosini placing the cast in these digital conversations physically, it allows for all sorts of twisted comedy to transpire, as well as genuine heartfelt moments. As Morosini grapples with his father’s manipulation in the name of love, this film also seems to toss around the notion of how beneficial a digital presence can be. It also pokes complete fun at it sometimes by illustrating the “new social norm” found in online chat rooms.

If I Love My Dad was a work of fiction, there’s no doubt some would call it too far-fetched. Yet through Morosini’s gentle touch and Oswalt’s amusing commitment to the lunacy of it all, this true story works wonderfully. Dedicated to his father (who greatly enjoyed the film upon its premiere), this feels like a necessary reminder to try and understand the lives of others. People find a rationale in all sorts of issues that could vastly differ from one another. Yet in the case of this film, the core reasoning is the same among both parties: looking for connection. Morosini’s character in this film is told that talking through issues can help solve them. It seems that talking to audiences across the world via this film not only helped him, but will also help any audience members as well; And that’s a beautiful thing.

Magnolia Pictures will release I LOVE MY DAD in theaters on August 5, 2022 and On Demand August 12, 2022.