Kevin Hart’s against-type performance shines in this emotionally driven mixed-bag.
Some audiences might see Fatherhood as nothing more profound than a Hallmark Father’s Day card, but its charming ensemble cast help earn it enough emotional resonance.
In all honesty, this briskly-paced film, told in a simplistic but emotional manner, keeps you invested enough, despite the fact it throws you very few curveballs. Based on Matthew Logelin’s memoirs, “Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love,” the film depicts his struggles as a single parent after his wife Liz died shortly after giving birth to his daughter, Maddy.
From the opening, I liked the initial approach the writers were taking this story. The script does a great job showing how important Liz was to Matt, helping us come to terms with what he’s lost. We open on him at Liz’s funeral, struggling through the eulogy before cutting back before tragedy struck. It’s an emotional gut-punch that Matt barely has time to recover from because of his new responsibility in the crib that he hasn’t even built yet.
Unfortunately, the film starts to lose a little momentum after that opening because Matt rarely tackles real-world problems despite the obstacles ahead of him. He has a great job, so money is not an issue. There’s constant support from his friends and family to the point of suffocation. He doesn’t even experience a single moment of discrimination in his personal or professional life.
The trials he experiences are merely the ones we’ve come to expect him to tackle. He has trouble putting together the crib, the baby cries too much throughout the night, and he even struggles to fold up his stroller, which causes him to breakdown. Sure, it shows the struggle of parenthood, but none that we haven’t seen in other films of this nature.
We don’t even stay in the infant stage very long as we quickly cut to four years later, and Maddy (Melody Hurd) is already in kindergarten. However, this isn’t a wrong choice as it is nice to see how Matt’s parenting has helped develop Maddy’s personality. She is shy and emotional, but she’s also a bit of a troublemaker who goes against social norms.
But again, you’re never really surprised where the film is going with its story. What keeps you invested are the performances from the assembled cast. Alfre Woodard wonderfully depicts a grieving mother-in-law trying to keep the one piece of her daughter in her life. DeWanda Wise shines as the love interest sharing very likable chemistry with Hart. Even Lil Rel Howery and Anthony Carrigan hit that perfect balance of immaturity and support as Matt’s best friends.
And, despite the cliches, you can tell that the crew put a lot of heart into this project and wanted to tell this story. It still delivers on the emotional drive, and it ends on a hopeful note that, despite their loss, they will be fine in the long run. Kevin Hart now has a new bar set in his career, and I hope that this enables him to do more dialogue-heavy roles going against his typecast.
By Kory Glover