‘I Love You Dad’: How James Morosini Turned Being Catfished Into Film

James Morosini actually does love his dad, and he proves it when his father calls within the midst of our dialog. Morosini takes the decision and explains he’s on an interview. “I’ll name you again,” the youthful Morosini says earlier than including: “Love you.”

The sophisticated father-son relationship impressed Morosini’s acclaimed new movie, “I Love My Dad,” which hits theaters this week and arrives on VOD Aug. 12 after profitable each the grand jury prize and viewers award at this yr’s South by Southwest Movie Competition. Patton Oswalt stars as Chuck, a person who’s reduce off by his son Franklin (performed by Morosini) and creates a social media profile based mostly on a waitress he is aware of, Becca (Claudia Sulewski.) Although Chuck is simply making an attempt to attach with Franklin, his son finally ends up falling laborious for Becca – and Chuck goes to more and more elaborate lengths to maintain up the ruse.

Listening to the premise, individuals are inclined to snigger or wince — typically each. It’s a fragile stability stored afloat by Morosini’s expert script and course in addition to a unbelievable ensemble that additionally consists of Amy Landecker, Lil Rel Howery and Rachel Dratch. It’s additionally based mostly on a real story – in actual life, Morosini’s father despatched him a buddy request underneath the guise of a beautiful younger girl. And whereas it does make for some uncomfortable (if hilarious) on-screen moments, it’s additionally surprisingly empathetic towards all of its complicated characters.

Most lately seen in “The Intercourse Lifetime of Faculty Women,” the 32-year-old actor’s earlier enterprise behind the digital camera was the 2018 comedy “Threesomething,” which he says was shot on a price range of “round $10,000.” So whereas helming “I Love My Dad” was a steep studying curve — Morosini calls it “the toughest factor I’ve ever executed” — he says it was additionally “essentially the most rewarding.”

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Patton Oswalt and James Morosini in “I Love My Dad.”
Magnolia Footage

I do know that is based mostly on one thing that actually occurred to you, however from what I perceive, your actual story didn’t go fairly this far.

It went farther than I’d have preferred. (Laughs.) I form of took a kernel of what occurred and tried to extrapolate upon it and requested myself what would I’ve executed if it had gone even additional. Emotionally, the entire film could be very, very true.

This occurred fairly some time in the past, across the age of 20?

Yeah. I finished speaking to my dad — he lied about one thing and we had a giant struggle and I reduce him out of my life. I believe once you’re 20, you see issues in a really black-and-white approach and I used to be very absolute about issues. At that time, I didn’t know tips on how to set clear boundaries in my life. I received residence at some point and this actually fairly woman had despatched me a buddy request. She was superior and had all the identical pursuits and all these superb photos. After which I quickly discovered it was my dad.

That’s horrible, however did the author in you instantly understand it was a very good story?

I undoubtedly acknowledged one thing in there on the time. I’m actually enthusiastic about tales being informed from a perspective we wouldn’t usually see. For me, that’s the worth of storytelling. I’m any person that likes to contemplate the opposite perspective and attempt to perceive what persons are doing. So I felt prefer it was a worthwhile train in empathetically exploring what he will need to have been going via on the time and why he would ever do that.

The movie is shockingly empathetic towards Chuck, whereas by no means pulling any punches about how horrible he could be.

I can perceive why lots of people see Chuck as a horrible father or horrible individual, however I don’t actually see individuals in that approach. I believe individuals have restricted instruments and we use them how we’ve been taught to make use of them. No one is aware of tips on how to be an ideal guardian, particularly in the event that they didn’t have good mother and father. So for me, the is about forgiving individuals for being restricted and looking for methods to attach with them, even when it appears unimaginable to take action.

Did you speak to your father once you had been writing to essentially get his perspective?

I did fairly a bit. I went to Colorado and I spent lots of time with him. He additionally gave me his journals from earlier in his life, and people had been so informative in crafting the character’s perspective as I used to be writing it.

Did he converse to Patton earlier than taking pictures?

No, I believe Patton needed it to be a separate character than my precise dad, so I perceive. And actually, Chuck is kind of totally different from my dad.

I perceive that initially you didn’t intend to behave within the movie, however Patton inspired it?

Sure. We had been speaking, and the thought of it got here up. After which I went to his home and we learn a number of scenes on digital camera, simply to see if it made sense. And we each loved appearing collectively. I’m finally glad I did, simply because it made it a lot extra private for me. And since I used to be in a position to do issues in it that I wouldn’t essentially know tips on how to convey to an actor.

There’s so many moments the place the viewers is on edge questioning how far issues are going to go. It walks a precarious stability; how did you grasp that tone? Was it within the writing or taking pictures, and even the enhancing?

I believe it was a mixture of all of these issues. Within the writing, I felt let’s go so far as we will. After which we will pull it again if it doesn’t work. After we had been taking pictures, it was essential to guarantee that the performances aligned and Chuck may by no means be having an excessive amount of [fun] together with his deception. He at all times wanted to be form of tortured by going via with this with solely glimmers of satisfaction, as a result of he’s getting nearer to his son, not as a result of he’s having fun with pretending to be this individual. That’s the place Patton and Claudia are so invaluable with these performances as a result of she’s saying what Patton is typing and it needs to be so exact. In enhancing, it was in regards to the juxtaposition between the characters. When Franklin is having his finest moments, Chuck is having his worst moments. As a result of for Franklin, the extra intimate he’s with Becca, the happier he’s, and the extra intimate Chuck is having to be as Becca, the extra tortured and freaked out he’s.

Are you okay with the movie being known as a “cringe comedy”?

Positive. You may put one thing down by saying it’s cringe but when the intent is for it to be cringe, then I assume it’s a praise. It’s like calling a horror film scary — for some individuals, it’s going to be too scary. And for some individuals, this film is likely to be too cringey. However for individuals who like that, I believe they’ll actually take pleasure in it.

I’m a giant fan of Reddit cringe, which is a subreddit of Reddit the place it’s simply all of the cringy finest issues ever. I’ve been making an attempt to know why I’m so enthusiastic about cringe. I believe it’s as a result of it’s simply so relatable. We will see any person working too laborious to or mendacity to make it seem to be they’re another person, and it’s very human. It’s so trustworthy it nearly hurts.

After all I’ve to ask: what does your actual dad consider the film?

He noticed it for the primary time at South By and I used to be very nervous about displaying it to him. I used to be fearful that he wouldn’t prefer it, or he would take it personally or get his emotions damage. After which midway via the film, he leaned over and stated: “It is a actually good film!” And he has a fantastic humorousness — I believe I get my humorousness from my dad. And so he loves the movie and will get it and is ready to snigger at himself. I’m happy with him, that he’s in a position to have a humorousness about this. This entire course of has strengthened our friendship and our relationship. And, you realize, the title of the film is true. I really like my dad.

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