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“Fatherhood” is a Feel-Good Devotion to Parenting- Movie Review

Fatherhood follows Matt Longelin (Kevin Hart) as he raises his daughter on his own after his wife passes away giving birth. We watch Matt grieve over the loss of his wife while balancing all of his responsibilities as a single father.

As if he doesn’t have enough weighing on him, Matt’s mother-in-law Marion (Alfre Woodard) has little faith in him. She badgers him to move closer to her. He raises Maddy mostly himself, but sometimes with the help of his two best friends Jordan (Lil Rel Howery) and Oscar (Anthony Carrigan).

Kevin Hart in fatherhood
FATHERHOOD (L-R): KEVIN HART as MATT, MELODY HURD as MADDY. Cr. PHILIPPE BOSSE/NETFLIX © 2021. 

Here is the scoop on Fatherhood!

Death of a Loved One

After birthing their daughter Maddy via c-section, Matt’s wife Liz (Deborah Ayorinde) starts to have complications. Someone shoves Matt out of the room while the medical team analyzes his wife.

Matt’s begging and wailing make the scene tough to sit through, especially in collaboration with the somber music playing over him. We feel for Matt after what was supposed to be one of the best days of his life becomes equally the worst day.

Celebrating Liz

Kevin Hart with hula hoop
FATHERHOOD (L-R): MELODY HURD as MADDY, KEVIN HART as MATT, DEWANDA WISE as LIZZIE/SWAN. Cr. SEACIA PAVAO/NETFLIX © 2021

At the funeral, Matt stands at the pulpit short on words. Before flashing back to when Maddy was born, the film begins with the opening of Matt’s speech: “This Sucks,”. Again, somber music accompanies Matt’s speech. The entirety of Matt’s speech is casual. He spends much of it chatting with Liz like he would if she was still alive and well.

At the funeral, the film introduces us to the lack of faith Marion has in Matt. She speaks to another family member about Matt not being ready to raise a baby on his own.

Introduction to Fatherhood

Kevin and Melody
FATHERHOOD (L-R): MELODY HURD as MADDY, KEVIN HART as MATT. Cr. PHILIPPE BOSSE/NETFLIX © 2021. 

Matt’s first nights with Maddy are rough. He wakes in the middle of the night to her crying. He spends a lot of his time asking her what it is that she needs. Matt tries nearly everything, and can’t calm his daughter.

Finally, Matt stumbles downstairs with Maddy. There he finds Marion and his mother Anna (Thedra Porter) up and about. They heard Maddy’s cries and took it upon themselves to get up and prepare a bottle. In the meantime, Marion gets on Matt about how he plans to care for Maddy on his own. Come to find, Matt doesn’t have much of a plan, but he does have heart.

Matt’s dignity is sharpened when he directly tells Marion that he will not be moving to Minnesota with Maddy. He fully intends to care for his daughter on his own without the overbearing aid from his mother-in-law.

Tips and Tricks

fatherhood
FATHERHOOD (L-R): KEVIN HART as MATT, DEBORAH AYORINDE as LIZ. Cr. PHILIPPE BOSSE/NETFLIX © 2021. 

Once Marion and Anna return to Minnesota, Matt is left to care for Maddy on his own. Maddy cries consistently for days, leaving Matt clueless about what is upsetting her. He delivers her all of the basic needs of a newborn, but she will not stop crying and go to sleep.

Matt stumbles into a support group for new parents. A mother there suggests that Maddy may have colic. She suggests that he try putting Maddy to sleep with white noise. Low and behold, when Matt tucks Maddy in that night, she sleeps.

Matt’s desperate attempt at finding someone to help him shows that he is admitting that he couldn’t finish the job without some tips from other parents. When the mother’s tip worked, he is extremely grateful, and he gains a bit of his confidence back.

Bring Your Child To Work Day

fatherhood
FATHERHOOD (L-R): LIL REL HOWERY as JORDAN, KEVIN HART as MATT. Cr. PHILIPPE BOSSE/NETFLIX © 2021. 

Matt returns to work by working from home the majority of the time. He is asked to come into the office to make a presentation in a meeting. Matt warns ahead of time that he will have to bring Maddy in with him and find a place in the office for her to rest while he works.

While giving his presentation, Matt is interrupted by the sound of Maddy’s crying outside of the conference room. He steps out of the meeting and comforts Maddy by using the office vacuum for white noise. Matt’s boss Howard (Paul Reiser) follows him out and scolds him for his unprofessional behavior. In opposition, Matt’s business associates from the meeting also follow and offer their tips to comfort Maddy.

The kindness of Matt’s colleagues is comforting. They can tell that he is frustrated and concerned. They use their own experiences to help him out in a time of need. After they collectively calm Maddy, Matt brings Maddy into the meeting and holds her while he finishes his presentation.

Matt’s presentation is not traditional of course, but it is nice to see a single father getting the support he deserves. Matt’s character has been through enough recently; the universe owes him an easy out.

The First Pediatrician’s Visit

Matt poses with Maddy in his arms.
FATHERHOOD: KEVIN HART as MATT. Cr. PHILIPPE BOSSE/NETFLIX © 2021. 

Marion surprises Matt at his home to remind him of Maddy’s first pediatrician visit that he is to bring her to later that day. Matt refuses to admit that he had forgotten. The two rush Maddy out of the house and arrive at her pediatrician’s appointment on time.

Matt shows his insecurities again while the doctor is preparing to announce her analysis of Maddy’s health. Matt apologizes and calls himself a joke, expecting bad news. The doctor corrects him and announces that Maddy is perfectly healthy and Liz would be proud of him.

Marion’s soft side resurfaces when she congratulates Matt for his hard work and success. She acknowledges that he impressed her and that he should hold onto this major win. Once again, Matt’s pride is heightened. He promised to raise Maddy himself, and he finally receives confirmation that he has been successfully doing so.

Growing Girl

Swan is introduced to Matt at Oscar's son's birthday party. fatherhood
FATHERHOOD: Cr. PHILIPPE BOSSE/NETFLIX © 2021. 

After the pediatrician’s visit, Maddy grows up to be of age for school. While Matt survived the baby, toddler, and pre-school ages, he is now facing the school-age battles. Matt struggles to tie up Maddy’s hair neatly and makes jokes about her messy updo being a trend.

Matt informs Swan that of the importance of the hospital that Maddy was in that day. He implies that he is fed up with being too distracted by Swan to fulfill his duties as a father. The couple ends things between them.

Maddy the Mediator

Oscar and Matt
FATHERHOOD (L-R): ANTHONY CARRIGAN as OSCAR, KEVIN HART as MATT. Cr. PHILIPPE BOSSE/NETFLIX © 2021. 

When Matt tells Maddy of the breakup, Maddy is angry. She scolds Matt for pushing away someone good for both of them. Matt argues that it’s not Maddy’s business who he dates and that they are better off being just the two of them.

It is clear that Swan grew on Maddy. Maddy enjoyed having Swan around. It seems that Maddy appreciated having a female member of her untraditional family. No one could ever replace Liz as Maddy’s mother, but some may believe that Swan is hand-picked by someone special to meet Matt and join his little family.

Swan’s character is the best resolution to this film. Swan is often entertaining Maddy on her own, leaving Matt without her. Any conflict looming over Matt and Maddy was resolved by Swan’s arrival. Maddy didn’t have a female adult figure to fill in for Liz, but Swan slid right into that position smoothly.

Fatherhood concludes with a happy ending as is often the case. It would be cliche to call it a feel-good movie due to the terribly upsetting beginning of the story. The best way to describe the film is simply one with a resolved happy ending.

Watch Fatherhood on Netflix now!

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