‘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.

SNL Review April 8, 2017: Louis CK/The Chainsmokers

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

Love It

Sectional Couches – This is what classic sketches are made of. What at first appears to be a simple infomercial parody morphs into so much more as an intricate, multilayered story emerges: elephants gathered for an important reason, Barb from Racine, the fact that the couches are all made on Earth, and then that twist – brava!

At the Soda Shoppe, Louis C.K. plays a fascinatingly creepy soda jerk, and Cecily Strong plays a satisfyingly sneaky budding dominatrix…Cecilia Giminez is back to praise the Cristiano Ronaldo bust, most notably because he looks like he has a fish in his mouth…The ending is a bit on the nose, but Ernie’s Birthday demonstrates that Louis C.K. and Bobby Moynihan are adept at making the best out of an uncomfortable situation…The moral of the Tenement Museum sketch: when in doubt, go full Borat.


SNL Recap May 16, 2015: Louis C.K./Rihanna

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SNL: Rihanna, Louis C.K., Leslie Jones (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

This review was originally posted on Starpulse in May 2015.

In recent “SNL” history, the season finale has been reserved for familiar faces. Year 40 was no different, with Louis C.K. hosting for the third time in as many seasons and Rihanna making her fifth appearance as musical guest. Finales often have a celebratory air, with an overabundance of cameos, or an ode to the upcoming summer, or a farewell to departing talent, but there was not much of that this time. Instead, this was a fairly standard Season 40 episode, with a focus on original material that was best when it got weird. Unfortunately, it did not go weird often enough, and what resulted was a show that did not succeed too much as either a finale or as any old episode, especially disappointing considering the talent involved.

It’s Summer (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – The musical monologue is well-known to all, but a lesser-known, but just as durable tradition, is the musical season-ending cold opening. The former often indicates malaise, while the latter is usually a fun bit of form-breaking. This edition took it a step further, with another “SNL” standby – the Clintons – crashing the party. A long-term “SNL” narrative is taking shape here with the Democratic frontrunner leading up to the 2016 election, and it is simultaneously consistent and variegated. B+


SNL Recap March 29, 2014: Louis C.K./Sam Smith

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HealthCare.Gov Meeting
The joke here seemed to be that the president was reluctant to participate in social media campaigns, which is a huge misread on reality, because Obama obviously loved doing Between Two Ferns and revealing his March Madness bracket.  Kyle as the Pope was interesting, though, despite sounding more Italian than Argentinian. C+

Louis C.K.’s Monologue
This is one of the best monologues of the season basically by virtue of being the only stand-up comedy monologue thus far.  Now, Louie is obviously a living legend, but if there is going to be a stand-up monologue, I would prefer if it had a sort of event feel to it, as in Zach Galifianakis’ appearances.  But that’s enough complaining, because this was great material that was tightly put together.  “I don’t know when God started” and “Maybe your life is your weekend with Dad” were the top lines, and how have I not heard words of wisdom like this on the wifebeater until now? A-


SNL Recap November 3, 2012: Louis C.K./fun.

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Cold Opening – Michael Bloomberg Press Conference
The SNL sketch about the response to Frankenstorm Sandy is about … Mayor Bloomberg’s vendetta against sugary sodas and trans fats?  That’s kind of funny, in a bizarre way.  Bobby’s Christie sounded like just a Joisey tough guy, which was disappointing because Christie does have a distinctive voice.  But he did get the attitude right. B-

Louis C.K.’s Monologue
Louie in all black – the classic Louie getup.  As far as I know, Louie is the best stand-up comedian working today, so he could have chosen any bit from his current material to make this monologue work.  I don’t think the old lady at the airport was his best routine, but it did feature some classic moments, particularly Louie’s explanation that he “can’t switch” to not helping the old lady after he has already started helping her and the moment she points at him and declares, “I shall never forget you.” A-