Review: Fatherhood (2021)

Kevin Hart is faced with the troubles of parenthood when his wife dies shortly after childbirth, leaving him to bring up his daughter on his own in Netflix’s latest release, Fatherhood.

Hart plays the role of a new father and recently widowed husband, Matthew Logelin. He is tasked with the sole upbringing of his daughter, Maddy (Melody Hurd) after his wife, Liz (Deborah Ayorinde), passed away due to a pulmonary embolism.

For those wondering, the National Health Service website states:

‘A pulmonary embolism is a blocked blood vessel in your lungs. It can be life-threatening if not treated quickly.’

The movie gets straight to the point in the opening minutes, flashing between Liz’s late pregnacy and her funeral, rather than setting up their relationship in the first third. This a good move from screenwriter and director, Paul Weitz – who has directed other films like Little Fockers (2010) and American Pie (1999). Delievering the backstory of Matthew and Liz’s relationship could have stole away the heartwarming scene between Hart’s character and Marion (Alfre Woodard), in the last moments of the movie.

The movie also tries to drive a narrative that highlights struggles a single parent would have to tend with, without their significant other. Whether this be due to them leaving or an untimely death. In the case of Fatherhood, Hart drives a comedic story from the viewpoint of the father. These segments are clearly where Hart feels at home in his characters, as he delievers laughter and light-hearted scenes to the audience from throwing poop-filled nappies to awkwardly kindling his first romantic relationship since his wife’s passing.

However, the writing from Weitz makes it difficult to understand where the story will go until you realise you’re already at that point. One key moment, as an example, would be when Hart is forced to return to the hospital, his wife died in, that you realise he has some demons in the closet – which later implicate his relationships. This could be seen as a creative way to prompt Hart’s character to be a stereotypical man: putting on a brave face and not showing any sign of weakness. But it is clear, chinks in his armour start to show as the movie progresses towards its final act.

Netflix’s recent release is filled with a mix of funny, light-hearted moments but it can tug on those tender heartstrings when you least expect it. While it does have its fair share of cringe-worthy moments when it tries to be too funny, Fatherhood is able to balance out its comedic value without ruining the films authority.

Rating:

3/5 – Okay. It tries too hard to be funny in some moments but a good watch nevertheless.

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