When you hear the name Kevin Hart your mind instantly goes to comedy. That is what he is known for. That is what he does, and he is good at it. When Netflix (and Sony Pictures) released the trailer for Fatherhood, a drama with Hart as the lead, I was a little surprised. I love when actors known for a certain genre branch outside of their norms, and this was a reminder why.
Fatherhood is based on the book Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love written by Matt Logelin, the real-life heartbreaking story of Matt, Liz and Maddy Logelin. The movie, co-written and directed by Paul Weitz, takes us a little further into Maddy’s life, whereas Logelin’s memoir focuses on the first year of her growing up without her mother.
Kevin Hart is fantastic as Matt. You instantly connect with his character. He is immediately likeable and, because of this, you feel his pain when he unexpectedly becomes a single father. You feel his struggle to raise a daughter without her mother. He is not serious all the time, but he is not the boisterous Kevin Hart we typically expect. I really enjoyed what Kevin brought to the screen in Fatherhood.
As Hart’s character struggles to raise Maddy, his overbearing mother-in-law, played by Alfre Woodard, is a constant reminder of his insecurities and fears about succeeding as a single father. His friends, played by Anthony Carrigan and Lil Rel Howery, help him as best they can, which leads to some humorous and touching moments in the film.
Melody Hurd is a scene stealer. For such a young actress she really made me feel as though I was dealing with one of my own kids in many of her scenes as Maddy. It was the little things in her performance that made it feel more real – like the way she moved her whole body to nod – or the way she asked a zillion and one questions.
Not surprisingly, a new romantic interest is introduced during the film, which plays well into Matt’s struggle to balance his daughter’s needs and happiness, as well as his own. DeWanda Wise landed the role of Lizzie, or Swan or Hank (you will understand this later). She has great screen presence and nails her part.Fatherhood is an emotional film that will not only tug at your heartstrings and give you the warm and fuzzies, but will also make you laugh. Keep a box of tissue close. You are probably going to need it a few times. Kudos to Kevin for stepping outside of the box he built for himself and taking a chance with something more serious. In my opinion, Kevin Hart has moved beyond his comedic persona and has become a more versatile actor.