TIFF Reviews: 'Dads' Is a Hallmark Greeting Card in Movie Form Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard
Starring Will Smith, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Judd Apatow, Conan O'Brien, Hasan Minhaj, Ken Jeong, Kenan Thompson, Patton Oswalt
Published Sep 09, 2019Being a dad is hard, but it sure is rewarding!
If you're looking for deeper insight than that, you're going to need to look somewhere other than Dads, the bland new documentary about fatherhood by Bryce Dallas Howard. Inspired by her brother Reed's impending fatherhood — plus her own famous dad, Ron Howard — this film profiles a few different families and includes interview snippets with a few celebrity dads.
Guests include Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O'Brien — all of whom share platitudes about having children and offer vague responses to Howard's prompt: "Fatherhood is…" Aside from the occasional funny wisecrack, particularly from the ever-affable Will Smith, the celebrity guests don't have much to offer beyond star power.
The film explores how fatherhood has evolved from the outdated archetype of stoic masculinity to the modern model of a nurturing, caring dad. Three of the men profiled are stay-at-home "househusbands," including one compelling segment about a gay couple living on a farm with their four adopted kids. Another standout chapter features a Japanese man who gave up the grind of office life and found new fulfillment as a parent.
The closest the film gets to conflict is sleeplessness and poopy diapers. There are no deadbeat dads, and Howard doesn't remotely scratch the surface of the painful toll that bad fathering can have. The whole thing is soundtracked by glockenspiel lullabies and antiseptically bland ambient music.
As a warm 'n' snuggly puff piece about devoted fathers, it's pleasant enough, but Dads ultimately has nothing to say that you can't find in a Hallmark greeting card. (Imagine Documentaries)