New to Netflix this week – and landing just in time for Father’s Day – is Fatherhood. The movie – which is based on Matthew Logelin’s memoir, Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love – tells the story of a recently widowed husband and father, who has to bring up his child alone following the death of his wife.
In the movie, Matt and Liz Logelin are expecting a baby. Liz is taken into hospital to have a caesarean delivery, while Matt stands by her side to offer support.
The birth goes well, and the Logelins become the proud parents of little baby Maddy. However, shortly after Maddy is born, Liz suffers a post-birth complication and passes away suddenly.
Matt is devastated at the loss of his wife, but vows to hold things together for the sake of his child. The film then follows Matt’s journey as a single parent, as he navigates his way through all of the highs and lows of bringing up a daughter, while grieving a loss.
Directed by Paul Weitz, Fatherhood stars Kevin Hart, Alfre Woodard, Frankie R. Faison, Melody Hurd and Paul Reiser. The film is an emotionally charged drama, with a light touch of comedy, guaranteed to pull at the heart strings.
Now, I mention that this film has a “light touch of comedy”, because despite the presence of comedic actor, Kevin Hart, this is in no way a laugh out loud picture – so, put that out of your mind straight away. For Fatherhood, Hart plays against type, in what is a very serious role, in a mostly serious movie.
There are a few funny lines here and there, but Fatherhood is in no way a wacky comedy. The tone of the film has a sombre edge, while Hart brings a heartfelt sincerity to his role, swapping out quick laughs for a more grounded performance.
It is a performance which is simply excellent. At every stage of the movie Hart delivers in spades, bringing conviction and passion to the screen throughout.
This is his movie and a real showcase for his talents. If you have only ever thought of Kevin Hart as a ‘funny’ actor, then this movie will change your mind, by demonstrating the range he has, when he is given the opportunity to explore new places.
His relationship with every character/actor in the movie is also extremely important for selling this story. So, a tip of the hat must also be given to the supporting cast, who all do a bloomin’ marvellous job of making this story feel so intimate and so believable.
Director Paul Weitz has brought together a strong collection of actors for this film and all of them are great. He gives them room to spread their wings, and ensures they give everything their all.
If I have a criticism of Fatherhood, it lies far away from the cast and instead in the running time, which is just shy of two-hours and that is a tad too long for me. Personally, I feel this movie could have benefited from being trimmed down by around 15 minutes to keep the story a little tighter, and have things move along a little swifter.
All the way through the movie, it is fairly obvious where the story is headed, so quickening the pace somewhat would have worked in its favour. This is a minor grumble, but one I needed to flag, as I do think it should be a shorter film.
But this really is my only complaint. I genuinely enjoyed watching Fatherhood.
Many years ago, I worked in a video rental shop and quite often customers would come in on a Sunday afternoon and ask for a recommendation. They would tell me they wanted something with a strong story, a good cast, and plenty of drama – and more importantly, something they could watch with their wife/husband that they could both enjoy.
If I was still working at the video shop (if video shops were still a thing), then I would recommend Fatherhood. It has Sunday afternoon entertainment written all over it, and ticks all the boxes when it comes to the story, the cast, the drama, and the watchability.
This is a well-made movie, which packs an emotional wallop. Hart is superb and everything that Fatherhood does, it does well.