If a hot stranger attempts to befriend you online, it may not be an Eastern European bot or a financial scammer. It might be your confused, desperate, in-over-his-head father seeking a connection. Such is the takeaway from the trailer for I Love My Dad, the new Magnolia Pictures film from director and writer James Morosini, starring Morosini as Franklin, the catfished offspring, and Patton Oswalt as Chuck, the catfishing patriarch. The uncomfortable comedy, which snagged both the Grand Jury Award and Audience Award for Narrative Features at SXSW, tells the story of Morosini’s apparently true-life experience of falling in love with his father’s fabricated online persona, after his dad — realizing he has been blocked from viewing his son’s social-media profiles — creates a fake profile using pictures of a young waitress to keep tabs on him. It’s a classic rom-com setup, almost like When Harry Met Sally…, if When Harry Met Sally… was about borderline incest and directed by Max and Nev from MTV’s Catfish.
Well, this is a doozy of a take on “How I Met Your Father.”
SXSW Grand Jury Prize winner “I Love My Dad” stars Patton Oswalt as Chuck, a desperate father looking to reconnect with his estranged son Franklin, played by writer/director James Morosini. Chuck impersonates a waitress (Claudia Sulewski) online to strike up a relationship with a depressive Franklin, who has blocked Chuck on all forms of social media. The only issue? Well, Franklin metaphorically swiped right on Chuck’s alter ego.
Per an official synopsis, “Things begin to spiral when Franklin falls for this imaginary girl and wants nothing more than to meet her in person, as Chuck has inadvertently catfished his own son.”
“The Sex Lives of College Girls” and “American Horror Story” alum Morosini wrote the screenplay based on his own real family experience.
Rachel Dratch, Lil Rel Howry, and Amy Landecker also star in the dramedy, with lead star Oswalt producing the film along with Bill Stertz, Sean King O’Grady, Dane Eckerle, Phil Keefe, Daniel Brandt, and Sam Slater. Executive producers include Lauren Hantz, John Hantz, Jeremy Garelick, Dave Rath, David Bernon, and Will Phelps.
People who love to wince their way through comedies will find plenty to squirm about here, and yet it’s not like Chuck is a complete sicko,” Ehrlich wrote. “In fact, Morosini’s film opens by claiming that it’s based on his own father, and ‘I Love My Dad’ is just level-headed enough to ring true. It may not resonate as anything deeper than a modern satire of the idea that father knows best, but it leans into its high-wire act with the fearlessness of a movie that knows just how fraught it can be to connect with anyone these days.”
Ehlich added, “Every parent’s greatest fear is losing their child, and that loss — Morosini convincingly suggests — can be almost just as devastating when it happens while their child is still alive to see it. Or even worse, to choose it for themselves.”
“I Love My Dad” premieres August 5 in theaters and on demand August 12 from Magnolia Pictures.
Check out the trailer below.