‘I Love You, Daddy’ Was Already Creepy Before the Louis C.K. Allegations Broke. Now It’s Totally Inexplicable

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot

This essay was originally posted on News Cult in November 2017.

After multiple women came forward with stories of sexual misconduct perpetrated against them by Louis C.K., The Orchard pulled his film I Love You, Daddy (written, directed by, and starring C.K.) from its release schedule, just a week before it was set to come out. Considering the nature of the accusations, C.K. confessing to their truth, and the subject matter of the film, there was really no other choice for The Orchard to make, despite having paid $5 million for the distribution rights. Whenever entertainers get caught up in scandal, the viability of their projects is called into question, both financially and ethically. In this case, that is especially true, as I Love You, Daddy is astoundingly reflective of C.K.’s own experiences.

I Love You, Daddy will likely never see the light of a full theatrical release, but it was screening for press up until just a few days before it was pulled from the schedule. It offers plenty that is worth discussing, but I cannot imagine it is something that any potential viewer could ever unabashedly enjoy, even if C.K. had never masturbated in front of women without their consent. The premise reads like the worst possible idea that can be conceived in light of this story coming out. C.K. plays Glen Topher, a TV writer/producer (he’s pretty much basically playing himself) who tries to prevent his 17-year-old daughter China (Chloë Grace-Moretz) from dating 68-year-old filmmaker Leslie Goodwin (John Malkovich), who is infamous for his predilection for younger women and has been dogged for years by rumors of sexual abuse.

Did C.K. mean for I Love You, Daddy to be some sort of elaborate confession/apology? (At one point, Glen literally says, “I’m sorry, women.”) Or is he just baiting us, as The Huffington Post’s Matthew Jacobs suggests, into thinking it is something more substantial than it actually is? I can only speculate at his motivation. Perhaps he will speak to that publicly at some point. I often make a point when discussing controversial films to emphasize that portrayal does not equal endorsement, but in this case, that maxim falls short. I can describe for you the specific events that happen in I Love You, Daddy (like one character aggressively miming masturbation in front of others), but I am struggling to figure out what message, if any, it is portraying or endorsing. But considering the subject matter and the real-life context, that ambiguity cannot be defended.

Even if C.K. were not guilty of sexual misconduct, I Love You, Daddy would still be a dicey proposition. Leslie is clearly a stand-in for Woody Allen, who started his relationship with his wife, Soon-Yi Previn, when she was still a teenager and he was in his fifties and who has been accused of sexual abuse by his own children. The film is also a clear homage to Allen’s Manhattan, in which he plays a 42-year-old dating a 17-year-old. Let’s suppose a hypothetical in which Allen and C.K. are both free of controversy, rendering Glen and Leslie both wholly fictional creations. Even in that case, I Love You, Daddy is still creepy and misguided. In its best possible version, it could have seriously grappled with whether or not human beings’ most socially unacceptable urges can ever be morally defended. But that would require a delicate touch that this film simply does not have.

This Is a Movie Review: The Partnership Between ‘Megan Leavey’ and Bomb-Sniffing Rex is One for the Ages, Elevating an Otherwise Ho-Hum Biopic

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This review was originally posted on News Cult in June 2017.

Starring: Kate Mara, Edie Falco, Ramón Rodríguez, Common, Tom Felton, Bradley Whitford

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Running Time: 116 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Medium-Grade Explosives Injuries

Release Date: June 9, 2017

There is plenty of research and apocryphal evidence suggesting that dogs experience genuine emotions and form interspecies bonds much the same way that humans do. This always comes with the caveat that we can never exactly know the accuracy of those conclusions, as none of us has ever literally been inside a dog’s head. Most of the research I have encountered has included little, if any, reference to military bomb-sniffing dogs, which is a bit of a lost opportunity as that high pressure occupation surely has a noteworthy effect on the canine psyche. But at least now we can examine the compelling evidence of Marine Corporal Megan Leavey and her dog Rex.

Megan Leavey is a fairly straightforward military story, but it distinguishes itself with its high-class casting and its crew of sniffers. Kate Mara is sufficiently lived-in as the title character, imbuing actual personality into voiceover about how she needs to escape her boring New York town. As her parents, Edie Falco and Bradley Whitford do as much as they can with underwritten, limited screen time. And a fellow soldier (Ramón Rodríguez) strikes up decently sizzling chemistry with Leavey, despite the extent of their attraction consisting of an opposites attract thing where she’s a Yankees fan, and he’s a Mets fan.

But forget about the humans, we’re here to talk about Rex! We can also discuss Megan a little, so long as she bonds sufficiently with Rex. Obviously, she does, given the film’s whole premise. The two save a lot of lives in their bomb detection efforts and in the process grow as close as any human and dog experiencing intense stress together could.

After retiring from the service, Leavey fights through bureaucracy all the way to the U.S. Senate to change Rex’s “unadoptable” classification. It is not hard to get the audience on your side in such a mission, but it can be challenging to avoid schmaltz. This film makes you tear up, but it also earns your respect. Megan enters therapy to deal with her PTSD and her grief over missing Rex, and both ailments are treated with the dignity that they deserve. Their ultimate reunion is affecting not just because it is always adorable to cuddle a dog, but because Mara thoroughly convinces us that Leavey really did learn how to love from Rex.

Megan Leavey is Recommended If You Like: The Hurt Locker, American Sniper, Homeward Bound

Grade: 3 out of 5 Good Boys


2015 Emmy Nominations Predictions and Wishlist

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For my detailed thoughts on my predictions and wishlists in the major Drama, Comedy, and Variety categories, check out these links:

Guest Actor, Comedy
John Hawkes, Inside Amy Schumer
Michael Rapaport, Louie
Chris Gethard, Parks and Recreation
Dwayne Johnson, Saturday Night Live

Guest Actress, Comedy
Susie Essman, Broad City

Guest Actor, Drama
Mel Rodriguez, Better Call Saul

Guest Actress, Drama
Allison Janney, Masters of Sex
Linda Lavin, The Good Wife

Directing, Comedy
Rob Schrab, “Modern Espionage,” Community

Directing, Drama
Adam Arkin, “The Promise,” Justified

Writing, Comedy
Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna, “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television,” Community

Writng, Drama
Thomas Schnauz, “Pimento,” Better Call Saul

Animated Program
Bojack Horseman – “Downer Ending”
American Dad! – “Dreaming of a White Porsche Christmas”
The Simpsons – “Treehouse of Horror XXV”

Android – “Friends Furever”

Host – Reality/Reality Competition
RuPaul, “RuPaul’s Drag Race”

Interactive Program
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Main Title Design
Man Seeking Woman

Single-Camera Picture Editing, Comedy
Bojack Horseman – “Downer Ending”

Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program
Too Many Cooks
Billy On The Street With First Lady Michelle Obama, Big Bird And Elena!!!

Stunt Coordination for a Comedy Series or a Variety Program

Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role
Man Seeking Woman – “Traib”