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Review: 'Fatherhood' (2021) Dir. Paul Weitz

Kevin Hart, Melody Hurd, Alfre Woodard, Lil Rel Howery, DeWanda Wise, Anthony Carrigan, Paul Reiser, Frankie Faison and Deborah Ayorinde


Based on the 2011 memoir Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Matthew Logelin, Kevin Hart takes a stab at drama alongside the the comedy in this sweet story...

When Matthew Logelin (Hart) loses his wife Liz (Ayorinde) following the birth of their daughter, his world is turned upside down. Facing the trails of fatherhood alone, Matthew also has to contend juggling his job, his social life and his over-bearing family.

With challenges along the way for Matthew to deal with, he does have the support of friends Jordan (Howery) and Oscar (Carrigan) and mother-in-law Marian (Woodard). But more often than not, Matthew finds the strength to overcome the difficulties ahead.

As Maddy (Hurd) grows, the bond between father and daughter takes new directions and the two help each other navigate the world before them that includes new loves, troubles at schools and understanding the other...

During the opening minute, director Paul Weitz introduces us to a very different Kevin Hart from what we are used to. Reflective, sombre and a family man. The opening of 'Fatherhood' lays out the foundations for this emotional but heart-warming story, grounded by grief but lifted by a passionate cast dealing with the subject matter with the right balance of drama and comedy. The joy of childbirth is mirrored by the tragedy of death in the space of a few heartbeats, and Hart is put in a position many unfortunately find themselves in; being a single parent not out of choice.

Hart delivers a powerful opening performance using his unique quick-fire comedy, without letting it get over-the-top or silly, and a very emotive and tender side we hardly ever see. He's cast against type, but by doing so proves he is a capable actor who can offer the range needed for a story like this.

As Matthew Logelin raising his young daughter, we are given a host of tick-box situations that help make this suitable viewing for all without ever being too downbeat or comedic; problems changing diapers, building cribs, dressing frustrations, sleepless nights....seeing single fathers attempt these common hurdles are always good for a chuckle, and Lil Rel Howery bounces of Hart perfectly!

A solid offering in the genre, grounded by Hart and Hurd as father/daughter, working in equal measures of comedy and drama to make this a tender, family-friendly watch.

For the first half of the story, Matt deals with establishing his new responsibilities of being a father with his work and his family. Director Weitz avoids it becoming a Three Men And A Baby lampoon, and focuses mostly on Matt and him developing relationships with his mother and mother-in-law, played wonderfully by Teneisha Collins and Alfre Woodard respectively.

Skip on a few years after the foundations are laid, and we are introduced to a new dynamic for the second half in young Melody Hurd as 5 year old daughter Maddy. Hurd brings a new dynamic to the story once we progress past the bumpy years of establishing fatherhood, and she has a wonderful bond with Hart. The two share some nice scenes together, and make a great pair.

It's a typical father/daughter story, but handled really well and tenderly. The story is paced well over 100mins and doesn't drag, thanks to Hart dealing with his highs and lows, and Hurd injecting youthful sass and spark into her scenes.

Kevin Hart shows he can be Hart with a heart. A gentle, emotive story of discovering how strong a person you can be, grounded with decent performances and warm humour.

'Fatherhood' is a co-production between Columbia Pictures, Bron Creative and Higher Ground Productions

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