Fatherhood Parent Guide
On top of its messages of personal growth and resilience, this film delivers a moving tribute to fathers and grandparents.
Parent Movie Review
When his wife (Deborah Ayorinde) dies days after giving birth to their daughter, Matt (Kevin hart) is plunged into unimaginable grief. As he walks through his days in a fog, he must cope with his sorrow, his uncertainty, and his mother-in-law’s (Alfre Woodard) insistence that he is incapable of raising a child on his own. When she tries to persuade him to let her raise the child or quit his job in Boston and move back to Minnesota, Matt pushes back. He loves his daughter and is determined to be her full-time father.
Fatherhood is a big hug to all dads, released by Netflix just in time for Father’s Day. Unlike so many movies, it doesn’t infantilize fathers, treating them like well-meaning morons. Matt may well be inexperienced but he’s also dedicated to his daughter, ready to learn and committed to putting her needs first. His approach to parenting might be unique (having his daughter play cookie poker with the guys, for instance), but it’s a reminder that there’s no “one right way” to raise a child and that love, boundaries, and consistency are usually the best guides for parents.
It would be easy for such a film to be preachy or saccharine; thankfully, director Paul Weitz manages to avoid that trap. Matt spends the first third of the film wrapped in anxious irritability, but as his daughter grows, he regains his equilibrium. Nonetheless, he remains wounded by Liz’s death, tempted to wall himself and Maddy (Melody Hurd) away from anything that could harm them. Here, the script does enough emotional work to show that being hurt doesn’t incapacitate or diminish him; it just makes him human. This story is a reminder that we can all achieve more than we expect, despite our wounds and, as such, it becomes a tale of hope and healing for everyone.
On top of its messages of personal growth and resilience, Fatherhood is a welcome tribute not just to dads but to extended families. Matt gains insight from his mother (Thedra Porter) and even learns a few things from his in-laws. Maddy, too, gains strength and connection from her grandparents.
These solid themes are well delivered by a stellar cast. It’s largely thanks to Kevin Hart that the movie doesn’t devolve into treacly sentimentality. He’s got too hard an edge for maudlin excess; rather, his emotions of grief, anger, frustration, insecurity, and hope are simply and authentically portrayed. Young Melody Hurd also gives us a Maddy who is fierce, energetic, and full of life.
Given its positive spin on families, Fatherhood is definitely suited for family viewing, but not for kids. The PG-13 rating takes into account the film’s three dozen-plus profanities and scenes of alcohol consumption as well as its treatment of death and loss. Those issues can be hard to navigate, but in this film, they’re also enriching. This is a movie that will break your heart, but it will also fill it with hope and happiness and that feels like a pretty good trade.Directed by Paul Weitz. Starring Kevin Hart, Melody Hurd. Running time: 109 minutes. Theatrical release June 18, 2021. Updated October 2, 2021
Watch the trailer for Fatherhood
Rating & Content Info
Why is Fatherhood rated PG-13? Fatherhood is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some strong language, and suggestive material
Violence: A man threatens to punch someone in the face. A man learns that his wife has died. Someone remembers being chased around with a hockey stick. A man punches a clown. A girl falls and is seen with blood on her head.
Sexual Content: A mother talks about having cracked nipples. A woman complains about her husband wanting sex. Someone alludes to “messing around”. There’s mention of a cartoon featuring a “horny” leprechaun. A girl prefers to wear boy’s clothes and underwear. Boys tease a girl about her underwear.
Profanity: There are approximately a half dozen each of terms of deity and anatomical expressions. There are ten each of scatological curses and crude anatomical terms. There are also about ten mild profanities. There is an abbreviated phrase which is code for a sexual expletive, but the word is not used.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A woman is seen on screen drinking a cocktail. Men drink beer together. A man sings a song about needing a bar. A man drinks beer in a bar: he’s later seen driving but he doesn’t appear impaired. Adults drink beer at a restaurant. A man drinks wine while cooking. Friends drink beer together to cope with a stressful day. Guys have beer bottles on the poker table.
Page last updated October 2, 2021
Fatherhood Parents' Guide
Matt thinks he’s done the “bare minimum” as a dad. Do you think he is a good dad? What do you think makes someone a good father?
Matt is fortunate to have an employer who’s flexible with his work hours. What do you think provides the optimal situation for parents to balance work and home life?
This movie is based on a true story. To find out how accurate the film is, you can check these links.
The Guardian: Matt Logelin: Just the two of us
Loved this movie? Try these books…
This movie is based on a true story, Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love, written by Matt Logelin. Along with Sara Jensen and Jared Chapman, Matt has also co-authored a kids’ book, Be Glad Your Dad…(Is Not an Octopus).
Related home video titles:
Single dads are frequently the center of movie stories. In The Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith plays a single dad who struggles to provide for his son while going through a period of homelessness. A widowed father and his grieving children move to a house in the country that comes with an unusual business in We Bought a Zoo. In To Kill a Mockingbird, a widowed father teaches his children lessons about integrity in their racist community. A divorced dad is so desperate to see his kids that he dresses up as a woman and applies to be their nanny in Mrs. Doubtfire. A single father faces unusually difficult challenges in keeping his daughter safe in a post-apocalyptic world where all women are dead in Light of My Life.