By Frances Winston
Directed by: Paul Weitz – Starring: Kevin Hart, Alfre Woodard, Lil Rel Howery, DeWanda Wise, Anthony Carrigan, Frankie R. Faison, Paul Reiser
Available on Netflix now!
This was originally announced as a vehicle for Channing Tatum, before he was replaced by Hart, playing a recently widowed father, Matthew Logelin, who struggles to get to grips with parenthood and do the best for his daughter.
Based on the 2011 memoir, Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love, by the real -life Matthew Logelin, this sets its tear-jerking stall out early, opening with Matthew’s wife’s funeral. The usually comedic Hart is called upon to do some heavy dramatic scenes, and doesn’t always hit the mark with them. While he manages well in scenes where he is fighting for his or his child’s rights, when he has to perform more tender scenes or anything that involves usually suppressed emotions, he struggles. That said, I don’t think Tatum would have done any better in the role.
Thankfully he is supported by a strong ensemble of actors, who all manage to elevate this to something more memorable than it would be without them. Woodard is particular is wonderful as the mother grieving her daughter, who just wants to stay connected to her through her grandchild.
This doesn’t quite hit the mark as a big emotional drama. The story always feels rather small and insular, and I couldn’t help comparing it to other movies featuring single fathers, that have done this so much better, such as Kramer vs Kramer. It always feels a bit too neat, rather than messy and chaotic as real life should be.
If you’re looking for a gentle watch that doesn’t demand too much of you, then this is it. But don’t expect to have your heartstrings tugged, or to experience something really memorable that will resonate with you afterwards.