It would be hard not to be moved by the raw emotion each man brings to telling his story of becoming not just a father, but a dad. Maybe it's appropriate that the daughter of Ron Howard, costar of that quintessential TV portrait of fatherhood, The Andy Griffith Show, would be behind a documentary on Dads.
Director Bryce Dallas Howard certainly seems to have found inspiration in her own paternal role models, including dad Ron and grandfather Rance, and she incorporates home movies and testimonies from her own family members into her film. She's also dedicated Dads to Rance, who passed away in 2017, but not before she could capture him on film.
Her personal connection to the material, and apparent friendships with the celebrities she interviews, add warmth and sincerity to Howard's direction, helping to offset the reality that celebrities may not represent the most typical experiences.
Howard has also pulled together some riveting case studies of a diversity of non-celebrity dads from varied backgrounds. These stories are further supplemented by clips from home videos from a variety of parents -- some touching and some hilarious, especially where teenage kids are concerned.
The film can sometimes feel like it's advocating for a specific enlightened model of parenting, or serving as a pep talk for new or expecting dads (including her brother). That essence is captured in the documentary's tagline: "You got this. Even when you don't."
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.