On Netflix this past weekend, a Father’s Day gem was released. Kevin Hart stars in a Netflix original film titled Fatherhood. It shows one side of the comedic mogul many probably did not know existed. As he acts alongside legendary Alfre Woodard, one can honestly be impressed by his portrayal of a widowed father to newborn baby, Maddy, played by Melody Hurd. Matt must navigate the grief over his wife, raising a newborn daughter, and other family and work commitments. As he fumbles through several milestones, the audience compassionately enjoys the heartfelt relationship he builds with Maddy as she grows up, which is based on a true story.
In this film, Matt struggles to use his support system. His wife’s mother is overbearingly trying to help, and others are observers, not expecting him to succeed in raising Maddy. When he does seek help early on from a support group, he is almost immediately turned away just because he is a male. So, he seems to consistently close off as time goes by. By the time Maddy is school age, it does not appear that she connects with anyone except her dad, his two friends, and an occasional babysitter. She is a bit rough around the edges for her Catholic school, which leads to an accident on the school playground while Matt is off finally starting to expand his bubble of people with a new friend, Lizzie, played by DeWanda Wise. His reaction is that he was wrong to ever try having a life outside of Maddy and work, especially not for a replacement of his beloved wife. It may have been years, but Matt is still painstakingly trying to grieve his wife. So, he goes through a rough patch of trying to handle everything all at once.
By the end, Matt realizes he does not have to do one extreme or the next while parenting Maddy. He can be the primary caregiver and let Maddy spend time with her extended family. The film ends with a hopeful and warm feeling that Matt and Maddy are going to be okay. What comes to mind appropriately is that “It takes a village to raise a child.” Maddy’s village is not perfect, but that is the beauty of this film. The imperfectness was the perfect way to celebrate fatherhood on Father’s Day.