Synopsis – A father brings up his baby girl as a single dad after the unexpected death of his wife who died a day after their daughter’s birth.
My Take – Trust me when I say this as a father of a three year old girl, no matter the amount of advice or methods you perceive from your friends, family or from self-help books or blogs, nothing can train you into becoming a perfect parent.
Sure, it might prepare you a little, but my experience adheres to the fact that practicality is way different from theoretical knowledge. A gift you and your partner will relish and dread at the same time, sharing the moments together.
But, I can’t even begin to fathom or imagine how I could pull it off without my wife’s support and efforts. Mainly as I have no idea how I would handle every situation especially in the early days, and most importantly would I be able to pull off being a parent single-handedly.
In a way the scenario presented in this latest film from writer-director Paul Weitz (About a Boy, American Pie), which is based on Matthew Logelin’s 2011 memoir, Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love, and arrived on Netflix on Father’s Day, is the ultimate nightmare for most new fathers. Only with the presence of Kevin Hart in the lead acting as the assuring presence in the film.
Hart is known as a man with many talents, with broad humor being his specialty, which is probably he is last actor in the world I imagined who could push me into tearing up, with this heartwarming feel-good story which left me with a broad smile.
Minus the slapstick, the film is actually quite straightforward given the simple concept with just enough light humor to chuckle occasionally balanced out well with the heavy moments. But where the film actually wins is when it sells itself as a sufficient crowd-pleaser driven by Hart’s ability to convey the myriad uncertainties of parenthood.
The story follows Matthew Logelin (Kevin Hart), who following the death of his wife, Liz (Deborah Ayorinde), due to a childbirth complication, has now become the sole guardian of their new born daughter, Maddy. Though he is considered to be completely incapable of taking care of a child due to his lack of preparedness and patience, Matt convinces his mom (Thedra Porter), and mother-in-law (Alfre Woodard) to let him try.
With five years passing by and Maddy (Melody Hurd) growing into a school going adorable post-toddler, Matt suddenly finds himself facing the weight of balancing both work and family especially when he finds himself falling in love again with Liz aka Swan (DeWanda Wise).
Yes, Matt makes some odd decisions and plenty of mistakes, but the film treat the moments with respect, acknowledging the truth that being a parent is extremely difficult for even the most well-prepared people. Sure, it adheres to formula, indulges easy and overly familiar jokes, and throws in a contrived third-act non-crisis to give the story some climactic oomph. But it is all done with a good heart, even the cliché moments feeling understandable.
The film does a great job of recreating each stage of Maddy’s childhood shows us Matt’s struggle of selfless parenting, how fathers and mothers tend to dwell on two or three failures in the face of hundreds of wins. It evolves into one against the world kind of story complicated by Matt’s unwillingness to let some of the outside world in, an overreaction to the many doubters who insisted he’d never be able to do this by himself.
That being said, the film is bound to pull at your heartstrings, so be ready to get emotional. Contrary to how it may sound, though, the film does have a good amount of humor.
Despite the fact that Hart mutes his normal over-the-top persona, he’s still very charismatic and is able to elicit smiles and chuckles at even 20 percent of his usual output. However, the film should have avoided using Matt’s friends, Jordan (Lil Rel Howery) and Oscar (Anthony Carrigan), as comic reliefs, as each time they try to shoehorn in Jordan’s flirtatious nature or Oscar’s awkwardness, it breaks the spell of the rest of the film.
Surprisingly the film also highlights the effect patriarchy has on single fathers, like the constant question about where’s the mom to inflexible workplaces that don’t think of fathers as full-time parents and ridiculous school dress codes.
Coming to Kevin Hart’s performance, the film really explores his range and is without a doubt a serious step away from his Ride Along and Jumanji films. Here, Hart carries the entire film with his emotionally charged role and surprises by showing the kind of dramatic range he had teased in the The Upside (2017). Alfre Woodard, on the other hand, bringing the perfect balance of persuasiveness, gentleness, and steeliness to the role.
Melody Hurd steal your heart as little Maddy and shows excellent the potential to become one of the sought after child stars of this generation. DeWanda Wise makes for a charming and charismatic presence, while Frankie Faison, Thedra Porter, Paul Reiser, Lil Rel Howery, Anthony Carrigan and Deborah Ayorinde provide good support. On the whole, ‘Fatherhood’ is a warm, funny and uplifting crowd-pleaser anchored by Kevin Hart‘s exceptional dramatic turn.
Directed – Paul Weitz
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 109 minutes