Fatherhood showcases Kevin Hart with heart

This is Hart’s Big Daddy.

Last week, I became a first-time uncle. My sister gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Throughout the day, I now cannot help but find myself constantly thinking about my new family member. What will he grow up to be? What can I do to be the best uncle possible? How can I help my sister? Watching the new Kevin Hart film Fatherhood following such a milestone in my family hit close to home in many ways. I could only hope to offer the same support system to my sister and her husband.

Fatherhood focuses on the strength in family, and the notion that it takes a village to raise a child. Kevin Hart plays a widower whose wife passes following child birth complications, and as a single father, Hart’s Matthew Logelin tries to navigate through the mighty waves of raising a daughter, with a little help from his loved ones.

Hart is no stranger to displaying his dramatic chops. He proved himself as more than just a one-trick pony with 2019’s The Upside

Director Paul Weitz has a “diverse” filmography, to say the least. He is just as well-known for helming American Pie as he is the Academy Award-nominated About a Boy. His latest feature is closer to the latter — a darker yet sappier outing from a filmmaker who more often than not keeps things light. This is also true for Hart as an actor. The film diversifies both of their portfolios, with Hart taking a particular commendable step outside of his own cinematic comfort zone.

Fatherhood is set in Boston but was filmed primarily in Montreal throughout the summer of 2019. Those who look closely will spot a variety of local landmarks. Hart’s house is a charming NDG residence. Additionally, Girouard Park, Château St-Ambroise and Parc Toussaint-Louverture all make appearances in various scenes. As a Montrealer, it’s entertaining to see how Weitz disguises the city to evoke more of a New England sensibility.

This “dramedy” is definitely more emotionally driven than comedically steered, but not for a lack of trying. Lil Rel Howery, who plays the best friend of Kevin Hart’s Logelin, does not land a single punch when it comes to joke delivery.  There are a ton of poop jokes, most of which miss as well. This includes Hart literally missing a diaper shot at a miniature basketball net.

The dramatic elements, however, have their moments of shine. Alfre Woodard, who plays mother-in-law Marian, is a highlight of the film. She gives pure soul to her role as Fatherhood’s quasi-antagonist. Woodard delivers the best acting performance, with a close runner-up offered unexpectedly by her onscreen granddaughter Maddy (played by newcomer Melody Hurd). In what is only her second film role, the nine-year-old boasts just as much charisma as her Hart.

Alfre Woodard (left) is outstanding in Fatherhood

Fatherhood is not a particularly well-written film. However, what it lacks in wit, it makes up for with tremendous heart. This is Kevin Hart’s Big Daddy. It would be intriguing to see Hart cultivate the same trajectory as Adam Sandler; staying in his safe, goofy comedic lane, yet making bigger dramatic leaps from time to time. Hopefully for Hart, there are less stinkers along said path than the Sandman encountered. ■

Fatherhood is on Netflix Canada as of Friday, June 18. Watch the trailer here:

Kevin Hart, Melody Hurd and Alfre Woodard star in Fatherhood

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