- Movie Rating -

I Love You, Daddy (2017)

| November 14, 2017

You know how they say that in show business timing is everything?  Well, someone might well have listened.  In the midst of a sexual misconduct roll call that has already sucked up Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, now Louis C.K. falls into the fray in the midst of confirmation of rumors that, over the course of several years, the comedian exposed himself to several women.  In the fallout of that scandal, Orchard Films decided, just four days ago on November 10th, to pull the release of his showbiz satire I Love You, Daddy.  They might have done us a favor.  The movie is bad . . . really bad.  I mean, seriously bad.  It would be bad even without the scandal, but its emergence in the midst of the film makes watching it a difficult experience.

This movie is not only ill-timed, it was ill-advised from the conception level.  It is possible to tell the story of a 70 year-old man carrying on a relationship with a teenage girl and spin it into something functional (Woody Allen has made a career on it), but times being what they are, the subject might have – in the interest of decency and good taste – have been shelved in favor of a story that isn’t quite so creepy, given the temperature of the moment.

I Love You, Daddy tells the story of a successful television producer named Glen Topher (C.K.) who seems to have fallen from grace with everyone.  The movie opens with a dinner between he and his ex-wife (Helen Hunt) in which her vitriol toward him hangs in the air like a thick stench.  He’s not a bad guy, just a schlub who has difficulty relating to the women around him – relationships which he torpedoes with startling regularity.  Currently he’s carrying on an affair with Grace, a beautiful Australian actress the works on one of his shows (Rose Byrne).  Concurrently, he also has to deal with the budding sexuality of his 17 year-old daughter China (Chloë Grace Moretz) who casually runs around the house half-naked and is soon enmeshed in a relationship with a 68 year-old film director (John Malkovich) whose skill behind the camera is only slightly less well-known than his reputation as a raging poon-hound.  It says something about this movie that Malkovich playing an old man sniffing around young girls isn’t the creepiest thing about it.

If this idea sounds slightly familiar; if it sounds a bit reminiscent of any number of Woody Allen’s films (or headlines) then you’re not far off.  Allen is, of course, one of Louis C.K.’s heroes (and one of mine), so one might not blame him for wanting to try his hand at Allen’s style.  That is reasonable, but given C.K.’s current allegations, it might have been unwise, particularly when you consider that I Love You Daddy most closely resembles Manhattan, Allen’s brilliant 1979 love letter to his home turf.  That film, which features 43 year-old Allen in a relationship with 17 year-old Mariel Hemingway, is both beloved by his fans and a favorite target of those who demonize him for his connections with young girls (I adore the film, but I definitely see their point).

The relationship between Glen and Grace is particularly creepy in that it illicits a casual nature to the casting couch without ever drawing it out for the devastating effects that it has on those involved.  And, of course, the whole idea of China and her relationship with this creepy old man just makes your skin crawl, particularly in the fact that C.K. stages it like it is no big deal.  This wouldn’t bother me so much if the set-up at least came with some measure of consequence.  Woody Allen’s films like Manhattan and Husbands and Wives dealt with unwise relationships, yes, but they ended appropriately with consequences that seemed rational out of a situation that was not.  It worked because you felt that, at least, there was a fitting end to the whole creepy affair.

But Louis C.K. is not Woody Allen.  Yes, he has a lot of affection for Allen’s work, but in duplicating it, he ends up with a movie that all but states out loud an excuse for his off-screen behavior. Plus, there is a startling lack of sophistication to the writing here.  This is a cold, mean-spirited and juvenile film that wallows in touchy subject matter that it deals with by making excuses for behavior that is not only immoral but also illegal.  The bottom of the barrel, for me, is a conversation between Grace and Glen that left my jaw on the floor.  Glen is worried about China’s relationship with the old man, so Grace deposits this bit of ill-advised wisdom:

“She’s seventeen.  It’s a number – a person isn’t a number.  They declare you competent to sleep with anyone you want at eighteen.  Why eighteen?  Because that’s when you can vote and own property and get your own health insurance.  Why would all those things happen on the same day?  Why would a person sexually mature and then be expected to be put on ice for five or six years so they can vote and fuck a grown up on the same day?”

I am beyond appalled by that statement, and believe me, I haven’t taken it out of context.  I wonder what was going through Louie C.K.’s mind when he wrote it.  No wait!  I DO know what was going through his mind!  I don’t want to think about it.  I’m just going to move on with my life now.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2017) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy