You know what I love about good films? They have the ability to draw emotion out of me. Good filmmaking has the ability to convey the emotions of characters to viewers clearly. The goal should be to get us to feel something and to be able to have the appropriate mood or emotion that the film is showing us with said characters.
Call me cold-hearted or any insult you want, but I felt nothing watching Fatherhood. That is a problem when you’re trying to tell an emotional story of a spouse dying and a father having to raise a child on his own, and it’s very hard to feel anything. I feel as though this film was trying to force the emotion out of me and it just wouldn’t come. I think it was a culmination of bad writing and acting overall. So, let’s dive in!
Newly single father Matt has to raise his young daughter after the sudden passing of his wife. Matt has taken on the challenge of raising a child on his own, while also managing everyday life.
What I love
I love that Kevin Hart is starting to branch out and do more serious acting. Kevin Hart is a funny guy, but sometimes it's nice to see him really test himself. This is definitely a theme with comedians turned actors, they start with funny roles then start to take more chances with serious roles. Kevin will continue to grow as an actor, it will just take some more time and work.
I do like the theme of having children find their identity early in life. Maddy is a very different child, and she has more masculine interests. I personally think we should let kids be kids and let them figure out what they like, and this movie shows some of those ideas. If Maddy likes wearing pants instead of skirts or robots instead of Barbie's, that’s great. I love that the film embraced that idea.
What I did not love
Just like the title of this article says, you can’t force emotion. Good filmmaking should not have to give massive signals that it is time to cry now. Fatherhood sadly did this a lot. Matt has times where he is staring at pictures of Liz, and we see some flashbacks of their wedding. The film is telling you, “OK, it is time to be sad now!” The film should make you feel it naturally. The forced emotion of this film just did not sit well with me.
I said before that I loved how Kevin Hart is challenging himself and doing a serious film, but man, did he look bored with this assignment. He just did not display the emotion that I think was necessary for some of the sad scenes. There’s a scene where he goes on his first date since his wife’s death, and he looked miserable and bored. When the lead looks like he is not enjoying the film that will rub off on the audience.
The humor did not land with me either. Lil Rel Howery, Anthony Carrigan, and Kevin Hart are funny dudes, but in this film, they seemed corny and unfunny. That could be a writing issue, but as actors, you have to do the best with what is written in the script. Carrigan is hilarious in Barry (go watch that by the way), Howery is proven to be funny in supporting roles, and we know Kevin Hart is one of the funniest guys on the planet. I blame the writing for this, so Netflix outdid themselves making funny people not funny.
I just did not get the joy from this film. As I said Kevin Hart looked bored, and in turn I was bored as well. This film had no life to it. This had the chance to really be emotional and fun, but it wasn’t. To be honest I almost fell asleep on this one. Yikes.
Fatherhood is lighthearted and a feel-good story, but this film was dull and lifeless to me. Disappointing considering the cast. 2 out of 5.