Kevin Hart’s surprisingly good serious turn elevates an otherwise basic story of grief and parenting that still hits all of the right notes.
Matt (Hart) is left to raise his newborn daughter by himself after the untimely death of his wife in Fatherhood, a sentimental yet simple film exploring the challenges of unexpected single parenthood. Seeing Hart take a break from the comedic roles we have grown accustom to him surely evokes hesitancy, but he impressively delivers in a performance flush with heart and authenticity. Director Paul Weitz doesn’t do anything spectacular here to make Fatherhood a standout, instead rightfully relying on the strength of the story and the audience’s connection with the characters themselves. While nothing is completely unexpected along the way, each scene is oozing with a call for empathy that one can’t help but embrace.
Where Fatherhood stumbles is in the attempted infusion of cheesy humor and the inability to breach below the surface of emotional investment. Casual attempts at light-hearted humor are hit or miss here, often cute but also generic. These moments are peppered in among scenes depicting strong moments from Hart and important milestones in his journey, but Weitz doesn’t spend enough time with each of them. While the emotional undertones are strong in Fatherhood, they’re never given enough time to fully develop, save for the final act that finally delivers via the smart use of flashbacks.
Still, Fatherhood is a beautiful film that showcases Hart in a different light, accompanied by a top-notch supporting cast. Its charm is enough to win over even the most skeptical.
Fatherhood is now streaming on Netflix.