AFI Documentary Film Festival, Review: Dads

Year: 2019
Runtime: 97 Minutes
Director: Bryce Dallas Howard
Stars: Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron Howard, Judd Apatow, Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris, Ken Jeong, Jimmy Kimmel

By Rosa Parra

“Dads” is a documentary showcasing what everyday dads do and their overall experience with fatherhood. Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, she highlights everyday and celebrity dads around the world, including hers, Ron Howard.

The documentary opens with home video footage of Bryce Dallas Howard’s birth. We see intimate footage of Ron Howard becoming a first-time father, which then transitions into him on set ready to be interviewed by the same person we just viewed being born. We’re then introduced to the famous fathers composed of Ron Howard, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris, Kenan Thompson, Hasan Minjah, Will Smith, Patton Oswalt, Ken Jeong, and Judd Apatow.

Some of them ask her why she’s doing this documentary, and she answers “I want to know what it takes to be a father and celebrate all the dads out there”. She asks some of the easiest yet complex questions such as, “What is a Father?” In which Jimmy Fallon answers, “A Hero”.

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© Apple TV+

We’ve always assumed the standard family picture is comprised of a mother who stays home to care for her family and a father who’s the breadwinner. As time changes, so do norms, and now more than ever, we’ve seen a diverse definition of family.

Howard manages to shine a light on everyday dads by following their journey through fatherhood. Some are stay-home fathers, one takes night shifts to be with his child throughout the day, and she also gives the audience an insight into a gay couple who has adopted their children.

“The variety of stories in the documentary is extraordinary, showcasing the different struggles these men experience, including their various forms of coping and handling some of the difficulties. “

It’s worth noting this documentary addresses stereotypes related to fatherhood and how the social narrative has always portrayed fathers as a background individual, someone who isn’t given much credit nor attention as the mother.

However, these dads know and acknowledge the physical and emotional changes women endure while they give birth. Jimmy Kimmel states, “She’s Batman, and you’re not even Robin, you’re one of the tires on the batmobile.” Nonetheless, fathers’ roles in a child’s upbringing shouldn’t go unnoticed simply because they didn’t physically give birth.

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© Apple TV+

The variety of stories in the documentary is extraordinary, showcasing the different struggles these men experience, including their various forms of coping and handling some of the difficulties. Some fathers become bloggers/podcasters to inform other fathers out there about their experiences to build a community where fathers from around the country and world can find a form of consolation.

Another father physically attends a supporting group where others stay home fathers discuss their expertise. Another feels a tremendous amount of guilt for initially refusing to take responsibility for his child, and even though he’s now an admirable father, he believes he’ll never redeem himself.

“This is this film that’ll provide a tiny glimpse of diverse scenarios and advice from all these amazing dads.”

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© Apple TV+

Lastly, Howard also interviews her younger brother, who’s expecting his first child. Asking him his fears, and his plans for when his child is born. But she doesn’t stop there, she interviews her father and grandfather. Three generations of Howards discussing their fears, goals, and admiration for one another.

There isn’t one right answer to, “What is a Father?” and there isn’t a book to guide you through parenthood, however, this is the film that’ll provide a tiny glimpse of diverse scenarios and advice from all these amazing dads. Overall, “Dads” is a touching movie highlighting fatherhood from every stage of a child’s life that’ll persuade you to call your Dad.

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