A Lot Of Hart
Being a parent is hard work. Sleep deprivation and dozy midnight feeds are joined hand in hand with erratic mood swings and emotional breakdowns. Those early few months are really tough, and from there it only gets harder. This forms the crux of Fatherhood’s drama, which centers on a new Dad who finds his world turned upside down.
That Dad is Matt Logelin and we open the film with him giving a eulogy at a funeral. Matt is alone with his baby daughter Maddy after the unexpected death of his wife Liz. Now he’s forced to go it alone and raise his girl. Scared and questioning his own abilities, Matt shoulders this responsibility and tries to be the best Dad he can.
After a brief spat with his parents and a couple of relatable and hilarious scenes with Maddy as a baby, the film then jumps forward in time.
Here we see Matt juggling his job while raising Maddy as best he can. Maddy attends kindergarten at the school Liz wanted her to go, butting heads with the Sisters there over her dress-code.
Along the way Matt meets a woman, also called Liz, but to be honest this is the weakest part of the movie and does the story absolutely no favours, pushing aside the strained nature of Matt and Maddy’s relationship.
They say windows are the doorway to the soul and some of the faraway, thoughtful stares Hart manages to pull off here speak more than any dialogue would be able to provide. It’s easily one of his strongest performances and while there’s not that much nuance to some of the lines, there is enough to really get a feel for this guy and how difficult it’s been to fumble through raising Maddy.
There’s absolutely nothing here that hasn’t been done before but Fatherhood knows this. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the film simply shines it up as best it can and runs with the tropes. Those tropes are helped a lot by Kevin Hart’s acting, but the third act does fall into cliched romcom territory. It negates some of the drama and even loses sight of what this film was actually about in the first place.
One moment that really stands out though depicts Matt speaking to his daughter while she’s asleep. He’s struggling to hold back tears while talking about his feelings. It’s a really sombre and poignant moment, one that helps to elevate the material.
The comedy here is typical Kevin Hart silliness and that will undoubtedly be a love/hate affair for many people. There are a lot of jokes about poop, while the awkwardness hook is used to drag out some jokes to intentional awkwardness. Again, those familiar with Kevin Hart comedies will know all about this.
Fatherhood is a well-acted, enjoyable film about the highs and lows of being a single Dad. The third act does lose sight of the overall message at times, but Fatherhood undoubtedly juggles its comedy and more poignant moments perfectly. It’s not perfect, but it’s a perfectly enjoyable drama with a lot of hart.