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I Love My Dad (2022)

Rafael Paz

Franklin (James Morosini) is unable to remember a happy time with his father. All the memories of their relationship so far, as depicted throughout the opening credits, are full of failures, mistakes, lies and many other wiles used by Chuck (Patton Oswalt) to justify his shortcomings as a father. With each excuse, he puts forward an increasingly elaborate pretext.

That is why at the beginning of I Love My Dad (2022), Franklin is at the point in his life where he has decided to cut off all contact with his father, including on social media, Chuck’s last resource. However, the latter finds a new ruse to stay close to his son: inspired by the kindness of a waitress, Becca (Claudia Sulewski), he creates a fake profile, using stollen photos, and manages to strike up a "friendship" with Franklin. What could go wrong?

The anecdote that inspired Morosini's second feature film—following his debut Threesomething (2018), and based on his own family history—echoes other similar narratives, in which one of the parents seeks to redeem themselves after years of complicated interpersonal dynamics. This can range from the purest form of melodrama, such as Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), to almost proletarian action films, such as Menahem Golan’s Over the Top (1987) starring Sylvester Stallone.

It could be said that I Love My Dad is a more Freudian version of Mrs. Doubtfire (1983). While in the latter Robin Williams disguises himself as an adorable old lady in order to stay close to his children, here the reprehensible father figure is sublimated into an attractive digital young woman, creating a series of disturbing –emotional and sexual– dilemmas typical of our frenetic modern-day society. These are topics that Morosini does not shy away from to the point of infusing this comedy with a very distinctive –and sometimes uncomfortable– black humor.

Oswalt’s performance prevents the film from becoming just another episode of Catfish: The TV Show (2012-) –the television series derived from the 2010 documentary of the same name– or the sequel to The Tinder Swindler (2012). He manages to bring to the forefront Chuck's most unpleasant traits and emotional shortcomings without making excuses for himself, ultimately turning those flaws into endearing defects that the audience can empathize with.

Why, life doesn't include a parenting guide!

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