Patton Oswalt on directing the squeaky comedy I Love My Dad


Many of us have been catfished at least once in our lives. We meet someone online, think they’re a thing, and the truth comes out: they’re not what they said they were or what we hoped they might be. But what if that pretty girl or boy you were talking to turns out to be someone you know? What if the object of your online affection turns out to be your father?

Cringy, right? This is the premise of the new movie I love my fatherwhich stars comedian Patton Oswalt (taking a break from fantasy fare like Netflix’s The sand man and Marvel Eternals) as an estranged father desperate for contact, all contact, with his troubled son (played by James Morosini, who also wrote and directed the film). In an interview with Digital Trends, Oswalt, Morosini, Rachel Dratch and Claudia Sulewski discussed the making of the film, why it’s essential to see it with grateful audiences, and how gritty comedy can reveal key truths about the audiences who watch them. looked.

Digital Trends: Patton, this is one of your most vulnerable roles. What did you enjoy about playing Chuck?

Patton Oswalt: I just thought it was a realistic look at something I think we’re all guilty of at some point in our lives. It’s the classic “Don’t I have the merit of wanting to do the right thing?” Wait, do I really have to follow through and do this? »

We have all found ourselves wanting all the privileges of doing good deeds, but none of the responsibilities. I especially think that living online makes it easier to expect that from life, to think that you have a right to something. The film really explores the end of that impulse in a very funny and gritty way.

James, you wrote, directed and starred in this film. What was the most difficult aspect of making it?

James Morosini: My character Franklin in the film is very emotionally closed. And so going from a place where I was very introverted and totally closed off and then having to go back to being a director and being supportive and encouraging was quite difficult. I feel so lucky to have been able to tell the story as completely as I wanted.

Patton and Claudia, you both play different versions of the same role: Becca. Patton, your character impersonates her, while Claudia, you play both the real-life version and the virtual reality version that appears throughout the film as part of Franklin’s imagination.

Oswalt: Claudia was really good at playing all of the iterations of Becca. If you notice early on when she first appears in Franklin’s life, her performance is very down to earth. She basically reads everything Chuck writes. And then as the movie goes on, his performance takes on these nuances and you realize, “Oh, it’s not Chuck anymore. That’s how Franklin wants her to answer him.

In so many online relationships you’ll have, even if it’s not sexual with just a friend, you can imagine how they react. In a way, she plays three characters. She plays the real Becca, then Chuck’s Becca, and whatever Franklin wants Becca to be. It’s really amazing to watch.

Becca smiles at Franklin in I Love My Dad.

Claudia Sulewski: It was also fun to play the role as the stakes got higher and higher because Franklin fell in love with this imaginary girl. So, like you said, Payton, everything gets more intense and more emotional.

I think that’s what played into the grimace and horror of also having Chuck navigate and ask “Where’s the line and have we ever crossed it?”

Oswalt: There are a few scenes before it all falls apart where Claudia literally plays it like a romantic movie that Franklin has seen and remembers. And it almost turns into a parody of that kind of game because that’s what Franklin imagines in his head. It’s fantastic to watch.

Rachel, what attracted you to the role of Erica?

Rachel Drat: I was really fascinated by the fact that the whole script was a true story. I was a bit fascinated by it when I read it. When the role of Erica came up, I like that it was comedic, but it’s also a little twisted. It’s more grounded than the kind of stuff I usually do. It was always funny. I like to walk the line between comedy and weird.

Patton Oswalt shouts out Rachel Dratch in I Love My Dad.

You elicited one of the biggest laughs in the movie. I can’t repeat the line you said because it’s too graphic, but I think you know which one I’m talking about.

Drach: That’s what I like about her. She leaves you guessing. She looks a bit shy, but she really dominates. I liked all these different sides of the coin with her.

What was your favorite scene to film from the movie?

Morosini: For me, I was shooting a lot of these scenes in juxtaposition with each other, so it was fun to create this puzzle throughout the movie where I needed a scene that we were shooting to match a scene that we had toured or were going to shoot. I had to watch it in a connected way throughout the process. It was a creative challenge, but it was also a lot of fun.

Drach: My favorite thing as an observer was watching how James put the film together. I felt it was really masterfully done. And then my favorite part to shoot was probably the phone call when Patton was advising me on what to say to the character of James. It’s fun not knowing I was being duped, but just trying to get the job done right. And Patton’s frantic behavior was funny just to watch.

Sulewski: I think there were so many physical things that were so fun because I had so many things to play with, whether it was eating cereal off the kitchen counter, literally walking on water, or getting out of freezers . I think it was really fun to play in this carefree space where it doesn’t matter how Becca moves and navigates the world because she’s not real.

What do you want the audience to take away from I love my father after watching it?

Sulewski: To begin with, it’s a film about a father and a son. And I think in a lot of ways, watching it makes me want to call both my parents and figure them out. The movie really shows miscommunication and misunderstanding. And I think everyone is going through that a bit. Not everyone knows exactly how to communicate their emotions. And I think the film takes it to the extreme.

Franklin sits at his computer in I Love My Dad.

Morosini: I mean, the movie was so fun to watch in theaters. I really hope people go see it in theaters because it’s fun to collectively watch it that way.

A few people came up to me afterwards and said things like, “I haven’t spoken to my dad in five years, but I’m going to call them this afternoon. And hopefully people will maybe feel a little more open to looking at the perspective of someone in their life that they’re going through a tough time with or maybe a little more open to considering to forgive them one way or another.

Oswalt: I just hope people get the experience of seeing it in a theater because. And Claudia and I can both tell you because we know we watched it with an audience in South by Southwest and the way the audience reacts, watching it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a movie. You’re just crawling out of your skin, but really having fun doing it. It’s one of those great movies where there’s a lot of conversation in the lobby afterwards.

Drach: I will say two things. The first is that I agree with James and Patton that the public should see I love my father in the theater, the cringe factor really adds to the fun. Second, what I love about the movie is that no one is really good or bad in it.

Yes I agree. I really like this movie. I think it changed my life. This inspired me to delete all my fake social media accounts.

Oswalt: [laughs] Well, then we know our work is working.

I love my father is currently playing in select theaters and will be available digitally on August 12.

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