Netflix releases movies faster than I can keep up with and, with that volume of content, some bad films are bound to get into the mix. Last weekend, I sat down to watch what I thought would be a string of movies in the “so bad they’re good” category. The results were mixed.
First, my husband and I sat down to watch Fatherhood, starring Kevin Hart as Matt, a widowed father raising his daughter Maddy (Melody Hurd) after her mother dies the day after she is born.
Kevin Hart is funny, and Melody Hurd is a charming, talented young actress. Add in Alfre Woodard as Matt’s tough mother-in-law and De Wanda Wise as an also funny and charming love interest, and this movie has a lot of entertainment value. There is no denying that Fatherhood is a passable addition to the single father raising a precocious little girl genre, but I was hoping for more. I hoped for any nod to the fact that Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy or birth-related complications in the U.S. I hoped for the movie to do anything to set it apart from this subgenre. Instead, it is just another movie about a man learning to be a father.
Setting aside those disappointments, I will acknowledge that the movie solidly balances humorous and heart-warming. The development of Matt as a character is nonlinear as he copes with the struggles of rebuilding his life. Kevin Hart’s performance carries the story well. As his daughter, Melody Hurd steals scenes constantly. She’s a young performer to keep an eye on. In all, it is a well-made, cliched movie that my husband enjoyed much more than I did.
Fatherhood was written by Dana Stevens and Paul Weitz, who directed, based on the book by Matt Logelin. It runs 1 hour 49 minutes and is rated PG-13.
Next, we tried The Wrong Missy, starring David Spade as a man who accidentally asks a woman from a horrible blind date (Lauren Lapkus) to come on a company trip to Hawaii with him instead of the dream woman he thought he was taking. Really, it sounds like a great premise, but it stars David Spade, so I should have known better. My husband and I made it twenty minutes into the movie before we turned it off. Despite the interesting and potentially hilarious setup, in just twenty minutes there was so much relentless gross-out and raunchy humor that we could not stand it any longer. If, however, you love that sort of slapstick, give it a try.
We turned instead to Good on Paper, the (mostly true) story of a stand-up comic, Andrea (Iliza Shlesinger) who meets a guy, Dennis (Ryan Hansen), who seems too good to be true, is not really attracted to him, dates him anyway, and starts to unravel his seemingly perfect persona. Good on Paper offers a stealthy feminist takedown of romantic comedies. As the movie begins, it follows a familiar path: a career driven woman has a meet-cute with a successful, charming guy but hesitates to date him for various reasons that her friends chalk up to her having baggage. But her friends are wrong and that is where this movie makes an interesting departure. In Good on Paper, the lead should have listened to her instincts. From there, as Andrea discovers Dennis’s lies, there are many funny moments, but, more interestingly, there are actual consequences for some of the wacky antics that people get up to in movies. Good on Paper is a funny movie with a flawed, relatable woman at its center, a great gal-pal sidekick (Margaret Cho), and some sharp critiques of the tropes women are pressured into falling for. The movie takes some cheap shots and has some really awkward transitions in the storytelling, but I enjoyed it much more than I expected to.
Good on Paper was written by Iliza Shlesinger and directed by Kimmy Gatewood. It is rated R and runs 1 hour 32 minutes.
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