Get ready to cringe in new discomfort comedy ‘I Love My Dad’ starring Patton Oswalt

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The zeitgeist of cringe not only continues but gets taken to a new high — or low, depending on your perspective — in feature film “I Love My Dad,” which opens Friday at the Cedar Lee Theater.

What’s surreal — and sad — is the fact screenwriter, director and actor James Morosini (“American Horror Story,” “Feud,” “Lethal Weapon,” “The Sex Lives Of College Girls”) based the movie on a real- life experience.

The comedy-drama features estranged father Chuck (Patton Oswalt) who after being blocked on social media and concerned for his son’s life desperately wants to reconnect with his troubled boy Franklin (Morosini).

While such a parental impulse is natural, the dad’s solution is to catfish his son who naturally falls in love with an imaginary girl (Claudia Sulewski). Therein lies the cringe, which Morosini proudly calls discomfort comedy.

We recently caught up with Morosini to talk about his love of the cringe, The Cure and Patton Oswalt.

Hey James, congrats on the movie. Full disclosure, my teenage son physically had to turn around on the couch to avoid watching a few cringy scenes in “I Love My Dad.” Is that mission accomplished for you?

My intent as a filmmaker is to deliver as visceral an experience as I possibly can while keeping the audience onboard. If he stayed for the whole movie, mission accomplished. If he ran out of the room and baled, I might have crashed the ship but hopefully he stayed.

He did stay and witnessed a great performance by Patton Oswalt, who seemingly embraced the cringe with a familiar gusto.

Patton was on my mind from day one. He has an incredible ability to blend humor and darkness. I knew that sensitivity would be necessary to play this role. He’s also just so naturally likable that we’re on board with him from the first moment we see him.

Feature film I Love My Dad opens Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre

Feature film “I Love My Dad” opens Friday at the Cedar Lee Theater. (Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)

By the way, great use of The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry” in the movie.

My dad is obsessed with The Cure. He spent nearly every Halloween of my childhood dressing up as Robert Smith. He’s not a good makeup artist. His makeup always looked terrible but he was so into it that he didn’t care. He looked like a monster every Halloween.

Speaking of a monster, perhaps the craziest part of the film is the fact it’s actually based on a true story.

Part of the excitement of telling this story was that I had so much skin in the game personally. That’s the reason why I wanted to play Franklin so I could really stand behind every part of this story, be completely invested and have nowhere to hide.

What makes what you call “discomfort comedy” so appealing?

It’s something where you can’t look away but when it’s comedic it’s like you’re able to revel in the discomfort. So much of our lives we find ourselves in uncomfortable social situations where nobody is there to witness our experience or our point of view. It’s just all occurring in the unspoken. I’m attracted to telling stories that deal with those things and put them on screen because it makes us feel less alone and like we’re not the only ones who are experiencing awkwardness or discomfort.

Despite the awkwardness, it never feels forced. Also, while a comedy, “I Love My Dad” does have some gravity about what is basically an emotionally deadbeat dad to his son.

I wanted to make a movie that was both sincere and sarcastic. Also, I’m a big believer that there are no bad people in the world. That everything we do we’re justifying to ourselves and that we’re all good and we’re all bad. When we can see that in one another, it creates a window. It potentially makes us more inclined to be more forgiving and accept one another as we are and not as we hope each other would be. I want audiences to have a great time, laugh a lot, cringe and cry, but also maybe audiences will be inclined to connect with people who they haven’t in a while.

Leave a Comment