A father brings up his baby girl as a single dad after the unexpected death of his wife who died a day after their daughter’s birth.
One of the hardest things about writing a review about this film was trying to find the right words to explain how I felt about it as a whole. Because as a father, you can’t help but put yourself in the shoes of Matt. You begin to ask yourself so many questions, What would I do? How would I handle this? Would I be able to do this? I even started to unpack what I would do, how I would do it, and basically determined that I am not confident I would have done half as good as Matt did, which was a struggle for me to grasp.
When we meet Matt and Brenda, they are smitten and in love and about to add to their family. Brenda is handling all great expecting mothers, happy, joyous, and ready to meet their new baby. On the other hand, Matt isn’t doing so well as he wants to be the MAN, but nothing is prepared. Upon finding out that they are having the baby ASAP, Matt admits he is so far behind that he hasn’t even put together the crib.
Next, we got a baby, and all Matt’s happy, Brenda’s happy, we are delighted, it’s a sweet and beautiful moment. So we are well aware of what is ahead for Matt but watching it unfold was when we see a switch flip in Kevin Hart we have yet to see in a movie. Brenda passes out, and as the doctors come in and take Matt away to care for Brenda, the moment happens, she’s gone, and Matt is broken.
With the crying, mother-in-laws breathing down his neck, and the pressure of his job, Matt is struggling, and it’s taking a toll on him. At any given moment, he could’ve handed the baby over to his mother-in-law and thrown in the towel, but he couldn’t. So instead, he needed to be the Dad he never had.
This is where we really get to see the best of Kevin Hart. He single-handly carries this film in this emotionally charged role. Of course, everyone can’t make the switch from comedy to a serious part, but this was personal for Kevin because he could put himself in Matt’s shoes, which is the connection we feel throughout the movie. This 100% is a career-defining performance for him, and I hope this is only the beginning of seeing him in roles of this nature.
The realistic nature of how they presented the movie was where I think they knocked it out of the ballpark. Matt not having a dad in his life should be eye-opening for everyone that watches this. I often asked and wondered how I could be a good dad when my Dad wasn’t great? How can I fill these shoes? How can I be an example of something I never had? Matt’s issues were more profound than mine, as his Dad wasn’t present at all. So what model did he have?
The introduction of Lizzie, aka Swan, was done well and showcased how a father (or mother) should handle new girlfriends or boyfriends when they have children. Matt is very protective of his little girl and doesn’t want to show her a revolving door of women in and out of his life. How Lizzie handles that relationship is also pivotal for those entering a relationship with men (or women) with kids. Although society doesn’t follow these guidelines, it’s essential to showcase what we should do.
As we reached the movie’s third act, I am not sure there will be one dry eye as Matt’s life begins to unfold in front of our eyes. The third act is hands down the best thing Kevin Hart has ever done. He is fantastic on the stage during his stand-ups, great in comedy movies, but the Kevin Hart we see close out this film is something special. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the strong supporting players in this film. Lil Rel Howery (maybe one of the funniest character actors in cinema right now) and Anthony Carrigan, who play fantastic friends in their roles, Melody Hurt (who plays his daughter as she gets older), who shared incredible on-screen chemistry with Kevin and Alfre Woodard is lights out as the grandmother.
Fatherhood showcases the idea of being a single father without a Mom, which we rarely see displayed on the big screen, and I command the project from all those involved. Finally, the emotional roller coaster comes to an end. While we are grabbing the tissues, I hope everyone recognizes Kevin for the unbelievable performance he gave us in this role.
The Verdict: A
Fatherhood delivers as Kevin Hart gives a career defining performance