In December 2018, Kevin Hart landed himself in a maelstrom of negative PR that he just couldn’t make subside. Scoring the high-profile gig of Academy Awards telecast host placed him under a greater scrutiny, which led to the exhuming of a bitterly homophobic backlog from earlier in the decade, spanning tweets describing a guy’s photo as “a gay bill board [sic] for AIDS” and an extended run in his Seriously Funny standup special about how he’d try to “prevent” his own son from being gay. For all the furor these remarks provoked, the comedian was resolute in his refusal to own up to them, offering “I think we love to make big deals out of things that aren’t necessarily big deals, because we can” as a halfhearted mea culpa in a 2015 Rolling Stone profile. As the controversy surrounding his selection as Oscars emcee rolled into its third day, Hart declared in a video that “I chose to pass, I passed on the apology” when the Academy requested a formal declaration of contrition. One month later, however, Hart’s agents got him in as Channing Tatum’s replacement on the in-development Fatherhood.
After exactly six premiere date postponements delaying the release over a year, during which Sony quietly pawned the distribution rights off on Netflix, that film arrives online this week. The adaptation of Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love seems to exist mostly for the purpose of serving the public an image of a softer, more caring Hart. Like the source book’s author, his character Matt must contend with the unimaginable hardship of losing his wife mere hours after she gave birth to their first child. While shouldering a deep and lasting grief, he takes it upon himself to keep doctor’s appointments and change the diapers and create a nurturing home for little Maddy. He’s not the perfect dad – though that’s true only in understandable, forgivable ways, like struggling to wrangle hair into braids or momentarily forgetting the carrier in a parking lot – but he’s doing his best to figure out this grand, scary adventure called parenthood.
That Hart would want to be portrayed as a kind, patient man at this particular juncture of his career makes sense, and his possible ulterior motives don’t even feel all that intrusive on the agreeably low-key melodrama, until that behind-the-scenes context crosses the line from canny casting to manipulation. While the memoir’s scope doesn’t extend past the newborn’s first year of life, the screen version time-jumps ahead to Maddy’s school-aged enrollment at a well-regarded Catholic academy. Having gained a sense of herself, she’s started experimenting with gender non-conforming behavior, insisting on underwear marketed to boys and wearing slacks for her school uniform instead of the young ladies’ mandated skirt. As Matt, Hart gets the chance to field this perfectly, so supportive and open-minded that he’ll even wear a skirt to a morning drop-off just to prove it to the nuns. This fake gesture scans as an effort to shift real-world perception of his celebrity, the A-lister vanity project (Hart also came on as a producer when he signed on the dotted line) elevated to the level of pure reputational rehab. – source : The Guardian