Director: Paul Weitz
Starring: Kevin Hart, Melody Hurd, Alfre Woodard and DeWanda Wise
After several delays and a move to Netflix, Fatherhood was finally released last week, just in time for Father’s Day. Directed by Paul Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy) and staring Kevin Hart in one of his most dramatic roles yet, Fatherhood tells the story of a suddenly widowed father who takes on the roll of a single parent. His family is in another state and instead of returning home he carries on with career, juggling work with fatherhood.
Based on the memoir ‘Two Kisses for Maddie’ by Matthew Logelin, Fatherhood is an emotional film to watch. The first 15 or so minutes expertly set up the story, switching between the lead up to Maddie’s birth, Liz’s funeral and the wake immediately afterward. After a caesarean section, Liz has a pulmonary embolism and suddenly dies, leaving Matthew to look after their new-born daughter alone. It’s heart-breaking to know that Matthew went through this in real life.
It’s incredibly sad and upsetting almost straight away. You don’t spend much time with Liz and Matt together, but you get a feel for who they are. This film wouldn’t be such an emotional gut punch if it wasn’t for Kevin Hart’s outstanding performance. Often known for his loud and in your face comedy (Scary Movie 3, Ride Along, Jumanji), here we get to see a softer side to him. He’s great in the film and really carries the emotional weight. Melody Hurd, who plays Maddie in the film, is also excellent and both portray a strong father-daughter relationship. Alfre Woodard, who plays Liz’s mum Marian, also gives an extraordinarily strong performance. What could have turned into a stereotypical mother-in-law character, is instead a sombre portrayal of grief.
Running at nearly 2 hours, Fatherhood does start to drag towards the end. It never gets boring, but it does feel like a long film. On top of that, while it is based on a true story, there is a lot of embellishments and changes to the memoir. That’s to be expected, but there are a few things that feel like we’ve seen them before. It’s fairly formulaic and follows the usual plot beats of some familiar comedies. It’s still funny where it needs to be and tugs at your heart when it wants to.
Fatherhood is a heart warming and funny comedy/drama. It follows a man struggling through grief while raising his daughter and it works. A very enjoyable film that shouldn’t be overlooked.