by Nick L’Barrow
Netflix is great, but not every Netflix original film is great. Same goes for Kevin Hart. I think he is incredibly funny… but not all his movies are great. Needless to say, when the latest Netflix original starring Kevin Hard, Fatherhood came across my coming soon list, I wasn’t making leaps and bounds to watch this movie. But am I sure glad I did because Fatherhood is an emotionally genuine surprise that mixes its heart and humour well, anchored by a strong lead performance that shows off Hart’s acting range.
Fatherhood is the autobiographical story of Matt Logelin (played by Hart), the screenplay being based on his novel depicting his journey as a single father after the shocking death of his wife, and the mother of his child, one day after giving birth. Going through the trials and tribulations of raising an infant, Matt must also learn to deal with his grief, his demanding job and the testing relationship with his mother-in-law, Marion (Alfre Woodard).
Directed by Paul Weitz, he takes no time to throw the audience into the heartache that Matt faces. The introductory 10-minutes alternates between Matt’s eulogy at his late wife’s funeral and the joy that they both experience leading up to the birth of their daughter, Maddy. The following scene is arguably one of the most hauntingly realistic depictions of what it’s like to be in the vicinity of a dying spouse. Being forced out of the hospital room after his wife collapses, the demean-or of Hart’s performance as he processes the events occurring immediately paused my breath and brought a tear to my eye. It was not just the rawest emotion I have seen from Hart himself, but genuinely great acting all-around.
However, Fatherhood is not just all the gloom-filled aspects of life, utilising Hart’s comedic abilities, alongside his best friend duo of Jordan (Lil Rel Howery) and Oscar (Anthony Carrigan), this film is chock-full of decent laughs. A lot of the humour comes from either the quick-paced wit that Hart is famous for, or it’s the fish-out-of-water scenario that all three of the guys are in trying to look after Maddy. The classic montages of shitty diapers and vomit don’t add anything new to this comedic outlook, but the heart of the characters will make you laugh along (or laugh at them).
In terms of story, it’s tough to criticise the extreme familiarity in Fatherhood’s plot as it’s based on a true story, but this movie is just that, familiar. From the comedic montages, to the emotional conversations between Matt and Marion and the inevitable use of his daughter to get the promotion at work, all of the story beats on display have been done before many times, in many movies. These plots are done however with care and heart to make legitimate honesty out of the real life Matt Logelin’s story.
Fatherhood follows all the conventional plot points of the ‘single-parent’ story, but an emotion-filled true story mixed with Kevin Hart’s best performance to date, this is a movie that is definitely worth your time.
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