Patton Oswalt tends to be everyone’s favorite comedian. The man has been doing stand-up and acting for decades, bringing wholesome and raunchy fun to his projects. Likewise, James Morosini has an eclectic and impressive list of acting, writing, and directing gigs that fall in the realm of dramedy. That’s why the collaboration between the two is a perfect fit for I Love My Dad.
Written, directed, and starring Morosini, I Love My Dad circles around the strained relationship between Morosini’s character, Franklin, and his father, Chuck, played by Oswalt. For Chuck to reconnect with Franklin, the father essentially catfishes his son, and a series of awkward and hilarious situations ensue.
We got to chat with the director and actor to discuss the film’s inception. In addition, Oswalt revealed the acting process for those emotional gut punches, and we lightly touched on the film’s chaotic third act.
The film is about a dad trying to reconnect with his son and the hilarity that follows suit. It also touches on mental health and suicide as well. So, where’d the idea for the movie come from?
James Morosini: Yeah. Well, the idea for the movie came from my relationship with my dad. He and I got into a big fight a long time ago. I cut him outta my life. I blocked him on social media. He was really worried about me and wanted to make sure I was doing okay, but I wouldn’t talk to him. I got home one day, and this really pretty girl sent me a friend request online. I was very excited. She had all these amazing pictures, and it turned out to be my dad, and this story was born.
So, it’s pretty much a straight-up catfish situation. It could be a documentary if you wanted to take that route.
James Morosini: Yeah. It was inspired by this. We definitely took a lot of creative liberty with the story. But, still, I was catfished by my dad in a very specific way. And so we made a movie about it.
So, Patton, I Love My Dad is within your wheelhouse in terms of comedy, but there are times when it gets cumbersome. How did you prepare for those more dramatic situations and heavy scenes where your character was in an honest emotional breakdown?
Patton Oswalt: Well, I was very fortunate that James [Morosini] was willing to work with me on scenes beforehand. I think the tight rope act of this film is a lot of the comedy comes from on-the-edge emotional parts. It’s not separate. We don’t hop into comedy as a breather and then go into the drama. They are one and the same. And so that can be kind of difficult to pull off. So there was just a lot of reading the script, looking at things. Then once we started shooting the scenes, it just became, “Don’t play it for laughs.”
I think a lot of the best comedies come from characters who are actually deadly serious about what they’re doing. That’s what makes it so ridiculous, but you can’t be giving the audience the wackiness beforehand. They have to find that for themselves. So everyone got together, and everyone made a movie. It was a collaborative effort, and that atmosphere was really good that we could sustain it.
Yeah. I was really feeling that part near the end with the laser tag scene. Your character essentially has a full-blown panic attack. I’ve been in that situation many times, and that scene killed me.
Patton Oswalt: Yeah. That felt very, very real. That was a very–that took me to some dark places.
There’s a very chaotic scene in the third act—the big reveal. Was it always going to play out like that, or did you have something different in mind than what we got in the movie?
James Morosini: What’s in there now has been kind of what we intended from the beginning. It just required us being all on the same page and planning it out ahead of time because there’s so much commotion, and I have to be in such a heightened state. So we did a lot of rehearsal prior to that.
It was just a matter of making sure that each person was clear on what they were doing in that chaotic encounter. Every character comes into it with a different perspective. So we wanted to be clear to have that all collide.
Yeah. That’s another thing. I felt anxiety because the scene is almost like an Uncut Gems, Safdie brothers situation. Everybody’s just shooting off and firing on all cylinders, and you don’t know what will happen next.
I want to mention that before we ended the interview, Patton thought it was essential to watch I Love My Dad in theaters with a crowd or at home with others. He stipulated that sharing the experience with other people for those hilarious and cringeworthy “Oh dear God. What are we watching” moments is an amazing experience…and they really are.
I Love My Dad is in select theaters and is streaming on VOD services.