I Love You, Daddy


IMDB summary

by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This is Louis C.K.'s attempt to make a Woody Allen movie about Woody Allen. Well, to be a bit more precise, it portrays a thinly disguised version of Woody Allen: a prolific elderly filmmaker who is adored by many, but is also obsessed with young women, and accused of molesting a child. The Woody character is played by John Malkovich, which ratchets up the creepiness factor significantly.

The dramatic conflict in the film is this: the Louis C.K. character, a TV show creator who worships "Woody" and defends him against unproven accusations of impropriety, changes his tune when "Woody" sets his sights on CK's own minor daughter (Chloe Grace Moretz).

ILYD is similar in tone to the final season of CK's TV series. I'd call it laughless "cringe comedy," of which I am no big fan. I really like the way CK weaves his own awkwardness and blunt self-deprecation into his stand-up act, and I did enjoy some of the early episodes of his series, but I found the later episodes of that TV show appallingly humorless, so surreal and off-target that I couldn't even tell if he was still trying to be funny. This movie isn't that ungainly, but that's only because of the presence of Charlie Day, who acts as a one-man Greek chorus, making raunchy comments on the action and playing for low-brow ribald laughs. Charlie's role has absolutely nothing to do with the storyline, so it seems to have been added because CK realized he had to sweeten the script with some broader, more relatable humor. That was probably the right decision, because without Charlie's shenanigans, obvious and gauche though they may be, the film could not be called a comedy at all.

Even without the recent spate of revelations about Louis CK, this film was never going to be a blockbuster. It's a tonally inconsistent, low-budget, B&W film. The most comparable Woody Allen film would probably be Stardust Memories. Given that (admittedly imperfect) comparison, this movie would never have had mass-audience appeal, so it was with no great regrets about lost revenue that the distributors pulled it from the schedule when CK's sexual improprieties came to light. I'm guessing that the box office for this film would not even have been enough to cover marketing and distribution. Given that reality, the distributors probably improved their bottom line by shelving it, since the scandal poisoned the market for ancillary rights.

Damn, it's easy to take the moral high ground when there's no financial risk.

ILYD is a low-rent, independent, pseudo-Woody film, so we know its aspirations are modest, but that could still result in a success if it was funny and/or poignant. Does it succeed on its own terms? Well, sort of, in the sense that I made it through the entire film without the fast-forward button, and didn't find it a total waste of time. I suppose it's possible to counter that I was merely rubbernecking a known train wreck, but I don't think that's the case. I have no enthusiasm for the film, but I think it's watchable.

It's fair to say the flick is one of those which divides critics. The people who hated it found its sexual politics loathsome, but some others considered that very negative to be a positive, applauding CK's willingness to take unpopular positions and to face difficult subjects head-on. RT estimates that 37% of the reviews were positive. Given my own ambivalence, I'm not going to argue that the positive reviews are misguided, but on the other hand, I think it's fair to say that those in the highly positive category must be true die-hard fans of CK's work, because I am failing to come up with even one good reason to recommend it.