Tag Archives: Rachel Dratch

SXSW REVIEW: “I LOVE MY DAD” (2022)

“The following actually happened. My Dad asked me to tell you it didn’t.”

One thing I can honestly tell you going into SXSW Film Festival is, I didn’t expect to utter the words, “Patton Oswalt is in the best film I’ve seen from the festival so far”. But alas, here I am with “I LOVE MY DAD”, from first time writer/director James Morosini – who picks up the co-lead role as well, which makes sense as it’s his story that is being told, though as noted by the opening credit quote, his dad says it never did. And away we go on one of the most entertaining road trip comedies to come along in some time.

The story opens with Franklin (James Morosini), leaving a mental health institution having gone through a treatment program after a suicide attempt, leaving his mother Diane (Amy Landecker), overtly concerned about his well-being. While in group therapy, Franklin decided to set some “emotional boundaries” for himself, with the very first one being with his father, Chuck (Patton Oswalt). Chuck has always been a distanced dad in Franklin’s life, one who calls or posts on his sons social media sites, but always missing the big moments from his life leaving Franklin to have always felt he doesn’t care. So Franklin does what we all do when we ‘break up’ with someone, he blocks his father on social media and his phone, which in turn, freaks his dad out once he realizes what has happened.

From there what takes place can only be believed if it is seen as Chuck, feeling left out of his sons life, becomes “Becca” played wonderfully by Claudia Sulewski, a local waitress from the diner in town. Setting up a in ‘real life’ relationship with his own son, knowing well before hand, it’s not going to end well. But before you know it, there he is, driving his son to Maine to meet his dream girl all the while digging himself into a deeper and deeper hole as the trip progresses. You might ask yourself what kind of person would do this – yet alone to their own son – well that is what makes the story here as if there ever was an award for ‘worst dad ever’, then we would have a strong candidate for the winner right here with Chuck.

Of course, there must be some liberties taken as Morosini handles the story with aplomb in the way he dictates the pace, taking it to various levels and making it all the more uncomfortable for his father character along the way. With the adding of catfish lies, the discomfort level raises both comedically adding a tense, crazy suspense, knowing the outcome here is going to be brutal. The weaving in of wonderfully filmed sequences wherein it’s like Becca and him are together, with the bringing text sequences to life, only adds to this.

In the end, the success of this entire film is brought down on it’s leads with a lot of us forgetting that Patton Oswalt is not just a stand up comedian, but can really act, including myself as told in the opening lines here, but then you remember ‘United States of Tara’ or ‘Justified’ and it all comes back to you. As for Morosini, he is gold here – not just doing double duty, but triple duty and it all comes to fruition. Add in a great supporting cast of Lil Rey Howery as Chuck’s friend Jimmy, who tries to tell him how wrong what he is doing really is, and his kinda girlfriend Erica, the always wonderful Rachel Dratch, and you’ve got yourself the Grand Jury Prize winner for Narrative Feature as SXSW Film Festival folks.

Grade: A-

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REVIEW: “SISTERS” (2015) Universal Pictures

sisters
We’ve all heard the saying “Sisters from another mother”. Well that’s pretty much how Kate Ellis (Tina Fey) & Maura Ellis (Amy Poehler) are here as they look nothing alike and yes, they play/are sisters in this funny at times, throwback to our party days, comedy. Here the parents are Deanna, the fantastic Dianne Wiest and the truly who-knew-he-could-be-funny James Brolin is dad Bucky.

In case I didn’t mention it .. the sister’s are polar opposites. Since her divorce two years ago the responsible straight arrow, Maura, who is beyond do-gooder even in her job as a nurse. On the other hand we have the irresponsible, unable to hold a job or keep a place to live, mess up Kate. She is game for anything yet so childish that her daughter Haley (Madison Davenport), although still a teenager herself, seems to act much more mature than her own mother. But what the two sisters share in is going into complete and utter shock, to put it lightly, when going to visit their parents home they see a “SOLD” sign at the family house in Orlando. Seemingly by not informing or hinting at the fact they have sold it, their parents ask them now to clean out their former childhood rooms before the new owners come in.
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Reluctantly the sister dig through all their old stuff and while the two reminisce over their youth, Kate gets the idea to throw an for old times sake – “Ellis Island” –  one last party as they once were called and with that, one last party IS going down at the parent’s house.

The film definitely hits it’s high notes here as the invitations go out to all their former classmates – including as the scene stealer once again here as in Trainwreck, the how shall we say – robust – drug dealer Pazuzu (John Cena), to whom Kate has got her eye set on in some truly hilarious moments. As for Maura, well she’s got the charming nice guy love interest James (Ike Barinholtz), and they get themselves in the big ‘this-is-so-wrong moment’ of the film. Even high school mean-girl Brinda (Maya Rudolph) appears, although she is most definitely not on the guest list.
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As predicted, the party is soon out-of-control, so much so that the future homeowners might only be left with an entirely demolished home, sinkhole and all. There is mass destruction and a plowed-through dry wall. There’s also more token sad comedy bits than probably needed ending this.

A pre-party moment that stands out for me is a flat out hysterical nail salon visit with Hae-Won (Greta Lee), that had me rolling in my seat. Along with John Leguizamo’s character Dave, who’s never quite let go of his high-school party ways, the notable SNL cast members who do their bits are fun. There’s Bobby Moynihan playing an always “on” never-funny aspiring comedian Alex, who accidentally hoovers up some futuristic combo of blow and heroin and literally goes bananas.
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“Sisters” has a hard time stopping once the party has ended, but when it’s moving as an out-of-control party stacked with people worrying about getting old, it knows how to move. When it’s not, the story becomes a bit lackluster.

Grade: C+
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Review Screening: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Nationwide release: Friday, December 18, 2015