‘I Love My Dad’ review: Patton Oswalt cringe comedy and more

‘I love my father’

Writer-director James Morosini benefits from a powerful performance from Patton Oswalt in I Love My Dad, a stunningly daring film about a divorced father desperate to reconnect with his clinically depressed son. Morosini plays son Franklin, who is so grumpy at the beginning of the film that he is practically in a coma. Oswalt’s Chuck, meanwhile, has broken so many promises that Franklin decides the best thing for his sanity is to block his father on all social media. In response, Chuck creates a fake Facebook account using pictures of a local diner waitress, Becca (Claudia Sulewski), to trick his son into talking to him.

“I Love My Dad” is part cringe comedy farce, part heartwarming make-up story, and part white-knuckle thriller. When Chuck agrees to accompany Franklin on an ill-advised road trip to meet Becca in person, he enjoys the rare face-to-face time with his child despite the constant risk of being caught — especially when his son starts his online “girlfriend.” ‘ texted her and asked her to be more intimate. It’s a tricky balancing act keeping “I Love My Dad” funny, edgy, and true at the same time; and Morosini cannot always refine it. The severity of Franklin’s depression makes it harder to find his father’s deception as insane as the film sometimes makes it out to be. As the moment approaches when Chuck needs to come in, the tension becomes almost unbearable.

Still, it’s exciting to see Morosini taking so many risks with the way his narrative unfolds, even if they don’t all pay off. It helps that he has such game stars in Sulewski, who plays Franklin’s imaginary version of Becca as every man’s best friend and potential sex goddess, and Oswalt, who plays Chuck as a man who always cuts corners. Together, Morosini and Oswalt capture the panic that some parents feel when they see their children descend into despair. They sensitively dramatize a father’s fear that whatever he does to make things better will ruin everything in the long run – but that doesn’t stop him from stumbling forward.

‘I love my father.’ R, for sexual content and language. 1 hour, 36 minutes. Available on VOD

’13: The Musical’

When it originally opened on Broadway in 2008, the musical “13” had a headline-grabbing gimmick: the cast and musicians were all teenagers. (The show also had then-novitiate Ariana Grande in a supporting role, though no one knew at the time how big that would be.) For the film version, director Tamra Davis and screenwriter Robert Horn expand on Horn and Dan Elish’s original book to include the story about Evan (Eli Golden), a New Yorker whose divorced mother Jessica (Debra Messing) is moving him to her small Indiana hometown, adding a few adults where he’s trying far too hard to make enough new friends to say goodbye a big bar mitzvah party.

The changes make this “13” look and feel more like a traditional Netflix teen film — all about puppy love and jostling for popularity — rather than the unique theatrical experience it once was. But Jason Robert Brown’s songs are still incredibly snappy, turning everyday teenage experiences like crushes, first kisses, and seeing horror movies with friends into up-tempo bops. And the middle school milieu still sets “13” apart from its teen pic competition because its characters are clumsier and more insecure – not yet true miniature adults, but children secretly afraid of growing up.

’13: The Musical.’ PG, for some thematic elements and gross humor. 1 hour, 31 minutes. Available on Netflix

A woman clasps a man's arm as they walk along a waterway in the film "rogue agent."

Gemma Arterton and James Norton in the movie Rogue Agent.

(Nick Briggs / IFC Movies)

“rogue agent”

The strange but true story of con artist Robert Freegard was previously told on screen in the Netflix docuseries The Puppet Master, which focuses on the long hunt to bring him to justice. New British thriller Rogue Agent takes a slightly different approach, delving more deeply into how the crook manipulated his victims. Co-writers and co-directors Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn (and their co-writer Michael Bronner) focus specifically on some of the women who led Freegard to believe he was an MI5 agent; and they investigate how he persuaded her to turn her life upside down and empty her wallets for him.

The film’s main character is Alice (Gemma Arterton), a lawyer who is so charmed by the handsome, disarmingly laid-back Robert (James Norton) that she opens a bank account with him, as part of what he assures her is a normal one Verification process before it becomes part of its spy network. When Robert subsequently steals Alice’s money, she begins working with law enforcement to find some of his other targets — though the cops aren’t sure if lying to women is technically a crime.

The procedural/mysterious elements of “Rogue Agent” are a bit routine and never create as much tension as they could. But the scenes in which Robert works his mojo with impressionable ladies — including a terrified college kid (Marisa Abela) and a mentally unstable American (Sarah Goldberg) — are both compelling and outrageous, and provide a crucial contrast to Alice’s more vigorous resistance. The film is ultimately a thoughtful study of how anyone, no matter how vulnerable or confident, can be fooled by someone who exudes confidence and expertise.

‘Rogue agent.’ Not rated. 1 hour 55 minutes. Lämmle town center, Encino; also available on AMC+

‘Tin can’

Genre-bending Canadian film Tin Can showcases some of this year’s most disturbing body horrors, beginning with the scene that triggers the story. Anna Hopkins plays Fret, a medical researcher working to thwart a spreading plague called Coral, which is causing people to grow a restrictively rigid shell on their skin. At the beginning of the picture, Fret is knocked unconscious, kidnapped and placed in a hanging animation tank intended for severe Coral patients. When she wakes up, she spends several minutes, disoriented, trying to remove the many tubes that are sticking out of her. It’s not a sequence for the squeamish.

From there, writer-director Seth A. Smith and co-writer Darcy Spidle follow Fret as she tries to unravel the mystery of what happened to her, first while she was still locked inside that tank — with a few others Prisoners within earshot nearby offering their own theories and suggestions. Has Fret awakened far into a future where Coral has been healed? Or did her kidnapping show that there was always something shameful and artificial about this disease? Tin Can is slowly – maybe too slowly – putting this puzzle together.

Ultimately, Smith is less concerned with the solution than with the squish. At times, this film devolves into raw, awkward feeling, as Smith long sticks with characters grunting, gasping, and gagging – cursed by the limitations and demands of their own physical form. There are elements of classic science fiction here, yes. But “Tin Can” is more of a tone poem about human weaknesses.

‘Tin can.’ Not rated. 1 hour 44 minutes. Available on VOD

‘Canvas’

In the animated serial killer thriller Canvas, there’s a pretty noticeable disconnect between the film’s rotoscopic look, which is conspicuously trippy, and the writing, which is often clunky and unnecessarily confusing. First-time filmmaker Ryan Guiterman begins with a pretty solid sci-fi/horror premise: an evil alien known as “The Painter” has been ritually killing and instilling an atmosphere of paranoia and fear that an FBI agent is trying to cover up and an investigative journalist is trying to uncover . But Guiterman tells this story mostly through a series of stiff monologues and conversations – like something out of an old micro-budget B-movie, only with animations layered on top. The effect is effective at times, adding an extra dash of surrealism. But it’s also alienating and keeps the audience away from the characters and their various crises. Canvas has a certain aesthetic appeal, but beneath its surface there isn’t much of a narrative basis.

‘Canvas.’ Not rated. 1 hour, 23 minutes. Available on VOD

Also on VOD

A man in a leather jacket with a guitar leans back while singing into a microphone in the film "elvis"

Austin Butler in the movie “Elvis”.

(Warner Bros.)

“Elvis” brings director Baz Luhrmann’s distinctive style – full of glittering lightning and restless energy – to the story of rock ‘n’ roll legend Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) and his controlling manager Col. Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). One of the biggest worldwide hits of the year, the film is a dizzying spin through American pop culture from the 1950s to the 1970s, as well as a reflection on the constant oscillating between art and commerce. Available on VOD

Now available on DVD and Blu-ray

“Heat” was originally released in 1995, but Los Angeles writer-director Michael Mann’s heady crime drama remains a perennial favorite for genre fans beloved for Al Pacino’s and Robert De Niro’s lively performances as grizzled men of action on opposite sides of the law. In conjunction with Mann’s new sequel, Heat 2, the film will be re-released in a special 4K Ultra HD edition with numerous bonus features. 20th century studios

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-08-12/digital-movie-roundup-patton-oswalt-elvis-austin-butler-michael-mann-heat ‘I Love My Dad’ review: Patton Oswalt cringe comedy and more

Sarah Ridley

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