The first feature from Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, based on a bestselling 2011 memoir by Matthew Logelin, Fatherhood tells the story of Matt Logelin (Kevin Hart), a recently widowed father who struggles through the trials and tribulations of raising a newborn daughter. With a skeptical mother-in-law (Alfre Woodard) pushing to adopt baby Maddy (Melody Hurd), Matt strikes out on his own, trying to build a world in which he and Maddy don’t need to rely on anyone but themselves.
While not breaking any new ground, Fatherhood is a pleasant enough watch. The film has its genuine moments of heartfelt joy and comedic nuance, but overall suffers from a paint-by-numbers plot, and an inability to successfully translate its dramatic stakes into emotional resonance. The introduction of romantic interest Swan (DeWanda Wise) serves as the primary narrative conflict in the second half of the film, but it’s not much of one, as all of the characters are too genuinely well-intentioned for any real concern over their relationship to build. That said, the performances across the board are enjoyable, with Hart showing an expressive range and Hurd charming in her precociousness.