Fatherhood, starring Kevin Hart (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), is a new Netflix Original that tells the story of a Father who must bring up his daughter alone after his wife passes away not long after childbirth. Though predictable and formulaic, it is emotional and honest from start to finish, making Fatherhood one of Netfix best hidden gems of the year. It balances humour and affection perfectly and gives us Hart's best performance to date.
Written by Becca Johnson
Kevin Hart is an actor renowned for his comedic acting roles and his stand up comedy, so it's a nice breath of fresh air to see him tackle something a little more challenging. Hart excels, not only giving a career best performance but conveying so much heart, emotion and natural humour. Lead character Matt may not always make the best choices but he always does what he believes is right by his daughter, which is the truth of parenthood. He is clouded by anxiety, doubts and fears, whilst also wanting to prove he is capable of doing it alone. Hart captures every scene and understands his character flawlessly. Alfre Woodard and Lil Rel Howery also give noticeably good performances.
It's not only the performances that help this movie excel but its natural and realistic feel. It definitely has comedic moments but not in the way of cracking jokes, face-palm punchlines or crude slanders. It is simplistic, allowing us to spend time with the characters and laugh at their mannerisms and reactions rather than force feeding its audience unfunny jokes. There was great tonal balance between light-hearted comedy and heartbreaking scenes. It tugged on the heartstrings when it needed to, yet allowed the audience to have some fun in between. Young Maddy is an incredible child to follow through childhood, and the script allows equal time with both her and her father.
Unfortunately, Fatherhood doesn't do anything new that hasn't been seen before. From the get-go, every plot point is predictable beat by beat and it's easy to see how the events will play out before you even push play. Though Director Paul Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy) shows a lot of talent with Fatherhood, it often feels like a run-of-the-mill, emotionally manipulative piece of cinema that Netflix often produce. The performances and relatable subject matter definitely give it a creative edge, yet the predictability often hinders enjoyment.
All in all, Fatherhood is likely one of the better Netflix Originals in terms of comedy/family drama. Kevin Hart and Melody Hurd are magnetic as father and daughter duo, the script balances its emotions and humour well and it's just an incredibly heart warming and wonderful story worth telling. However, its predictable plot and lack of originality stops it from reaching full marks, as it ends up feeling like a movie we've all seen before.