Kevin Hart, Melody Hurd, Alfre Woodard, Lil Rel Howery, DeWanda Wise, Anthony Carrigan, Frankie R. Faison, Paul Reiser and Deborah Ayorinde
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.
Based on Matthew Logelin’s memoir, Two Kisses For Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love, the film is a heartwarming, funny and emotional true story about a widower taking on one of the toughest jobs in the world: fatherhood.
Based on Matthew Logelin’s memoir, Fatherhood is directed by Paul Weitz, who also co-wrote the screenplay alongside Dana Stevens. Following the death of his wife soon after the birth of their daughter, Matt Logelin finds himself navigating his grief taking on the toughest job he’s ever faced: Fatherhood. Choosing to care for Maddy in the ways he knew his wife Liz would’ve wanted, Matt is determined to go it alone, but learns that raising a child, and becoming a dad, takes a village. With the help of everyone from his family and friends, to his boss and a new love interest also coincidentally named Liz, Matt is able to provide for Maddy the life of joy, love, and fullness he always wanted for her, no matter how different it turned out to be from what he imagined.
The film is the latest one in which Kevin Hart is looking to showcase his dramatic talents and he’s certainly picked the right project to show them off in, as we immediately open with the funeral and service after, we get brief flashbacks of Matt and Liz learning that she would have to undergo a c-section, the birth of their daughter Maddy, and Liz’s eventual death. We then follow Matt on his journey of not only losing a loved one, but also struggling to cope with life as a single parent. While the rest of his family and friends express not only between themselves, but also directly to Matt, about how they don’t think he’ll be able to raise Maddy on his own. The film is certainly at its strongest in the first half when Maddy is just a baby, as we see the trial and errors that Matt goes through in raising her, whilst also clashing with parental guidance from Liz’s mother Marian, who believes that her method of raising Maddy is what’s best for her. Kevin Hart is convincing in the more dramatic scenes in the film, while also doing what you’d come to expect from him when he comes to delivering comedic lines during the lighter moments in the film. Alfre Woodard also gives a good performance as Liz’s mother Marian, while young Melody Hurd also gives a good performance as the older Maddy, and Lil Rel Howery and Anthony Carrigan adding comedic value as Matt’s friends Jordan and Oscar. While I felt the second half of the film lagged, I did like DeWanda Wise’s performance as the potential new love interest for Matt.
I’m not familiar at all with the memoir written by Logelin, but the film is constructed in a way that the viewer doesn’t have to as it feels like it follows the same plot points of single parent-type films that have come before it. There’s nothing wrong with following a certain, predictable, narrative structure, if the moments you want the audience to laugh or feel moved are earned, and for the most part I felt that the film did that. However there are moments in which my suspension of disbelief was being toyed with, with one example being we witness Matt being able to bring little Maddy to the workplace, especially in how a sequence plays out as he has to do a big company presentation at a very important meeting. While I liked their performances in the film, it felt in the second half that Thedra Porter and Frankie R. Faison were sidelined as the focus seemed more placed on Matt and Marian eventually coming to that mutual understanding of each other. There is also that romance angle in the second half of the film that in theory didn’t sit well with me, but that is more in how it is setup than executed.
While Fatherhood doesn’t break the mould in terms of telling the story of a single parent, it is a decent drama with a solid dramatic performance from Kevin Hart.
FATHERHOOD WILL BECOME AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX ON THE 18TH JUNE 2021.