FATHERHOOD (NETFLIX) (2021)
SYNOPSIS: A widowed new dad copes with doubts, fears, heartache and dirty diapers as he sets out to raise his daughter on his own. Inspired by a true story.
Kevin Hart is definitely not the first name you think of when you are casting a leading actor in a serious drama. But Paul Weitz’s Fatherhood did just that and the end result surprisingly works.
Matt Logelin (Hart) is expecting his first newborn with his beloved Liz when a tragic event occurred and changes his life. As a result of pulmonary embolism, Liz passed away shortly after giving birth to Maddy leaving Matt as a single parent, struggling to cope with Maddy and his IT job.
Based on the memoir, “Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love” by real-life blogger and public speaker Matt Logelin, Fatherhood is very much predictable yet sentimental enough to tug at your heartstrings. At times, ticklish enough to make you laugh and cry. Perhaps credit has to give to Weitz, director and writer of About A Boy and American Pie.
The first half of Fatherhood deals mainly with Matt’s loss and his inability to cope with parenting. Adding on to his stress is his mother-in-law, Marian (Alfre Woodard) whose best intention often collides with Matt’s desire to be a hands-on daddy for Maddy. Helping Matt to deal with his grief is his buddies, Jordan (Lil Rey Howery) and Oscar (Anthony Carrigan). Two socially awkward buddies trying hard to turn Matt’s life around.
Fast forward five years later, the second half of the movie tells of Matt liking to a woman also named Lizzie (DeWanda Wise) by the way and his constant struggle with raising Maddy, his fast-growing career and newly found love life. The whole thing works primarily audiences grow to love Matt and daddy’s little girl played by gutsy newcomer Melody Hurd. There’s nothing showy about their relationship just pure human and soul sprinkled all around.
Despite the initial heartbreaking theme, Weitz’ flick is full of optimism, sort of that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade vibe. Obviously, it’s a journey that you have seen all before. Fatherhood falls somewhere inbetween The Pursuit of Happyness and Three Men and a Baby, though not as somber as the former and not as comical as the latter. The interaction between the various characters are always natural and veteran Alfre Woodard shines in every second of the screentime.
Fatherhood is an intimate, heartwarming drama where Kevin Hart deserved the most praise for his understated performance. Essentially a vehicle for Hart, the comedian who is known for the Jumanji series than anything else, Fatherhood marks his second successful foray into drama after The Upside. Recommended for those who love making lemonade during lemon season.
Review by Linus Tee