Friday, August 20, 2021

Film Review: Fatherhood (Netflix)


Sexuality/Nudity Mature
Violence No Objection
Vulgarity Mature
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Mature

This is a movie that is all about concept and emotion and not about plot.

My problem with the movie may be more specific to my tastes rather than an inherent flaw.  I am someone who tends to be very attuned to plot.  If the plot is not strong, I tend to lose interest.  And Fatherhood really doesn't have a plot.

The movie is about Matt Logelin (Kevin Hart).  His wife Liz (Deborah Ayorinde) dies shortly after giving birth to their daughter (played mostly by Melody Hurd).  The movie is about the hapless Matt doing the best he can to raise Melody on his own.  

To the film's credit, Hart does a great job.  He has always been an excellent comedic actor, but he is really growing as a dramatic actor as well.  He is able to let his emotional guard down and show incredible range and vulnerability.  Hurd is also wonderful for her age.  The two of them have a fantastic chemistry that will tug at your heartstrings in different ways.

Again, the problem is that the movie is just a series of loosely connected vignettes that really don't hold together.  The closest thing to a major plot thread is how his overbearing mother-in-law Marion (Alfre Woodard) intrudes on his life and seeks to take Melody for herself.  But this conflict gets semi-resolved way too early in the film.  As a result, the movie has to double-back later and reignite the fire after it has already been put out.

There is another subplot about how is boss (Paul Reiser) is having trouble with Matt's work performance now that he is a father.  We also have his friends Jordan (Lil Rel Howery) and Oscar (Anthony Carrigan) try to help him for comedic effect.  The main thrust of the second and third act also involve Matt starting to date again a woman named Swan (DeWanda Wise).  These moments are actually the most interesting of the movie as it shows the difficulties in navigating a romantic relationship when someone has children.  Finally, there is a very annoying subplot involving Catholic school uniforms.

Everything feels disjointed and there is no strong through-line.  There is no sense of how the story is progressing because it basically lolligags in scenes that it wants to revel in.

With a tighter plot, this movie could have worked better.  A plot is like a skeleton, it holds the story together.  No matter how strong your muscles are, without that skeleton, you have no real strength.  The same is true of this movie.  It has some powerful emotional beats, but it can never stick the landing.

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