Dads review – a moving exploration of fatherhood with some grating celebrity cameos

June 19, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
Apple TV+, Film Reviews


Dads is a welcome and often moving documentary feature on Apple TV+, although it asks you to wade through some smug celebrity hokum in order to find the best bits.

Dads (Apple TV+) debuted on the platform on June 19, 2020.

Lately, with a lot of entertainment suspended and a lot of real-world issues taking precedence over make-believe, celebrities have fallen out of favor in our culture. For anyone who saw a cavalcade of stars singing “Imagine” in lockdown, or the many claiming that they “take responsibility” for systemic racism and abuses of power, it’s easy to think that these people are surplus to requirements at the moment. This is the biggest obstacle you’ll have to clear in order to enjoy the new documentary Dads (Apple TV+), directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, which has all its good bits sharing space with grating celebrity anecdotes.

The point, I suppose, is that these celebrities are just like us. Their kids are sick in their mouths! But they’re not like us, not really, and seeing twinkly-eyed metaphors about fatherhood from A-listers doesn’t make me feel any kinship with them. I’m much more interested in the stories of normal people, like stay-at-home vlogger Glen Henry, and Rob and Reece Scheer, a gay couple who adopted four neglected children. These are real stories not just of fatherhood but of exceptional fatherhood; men navigating the lives of children who are victims of neglect or congenital heart defects.

This positive and atypical depiction of men rearing children is welcome and works best without celebrity endorsement. It challenges ingrained gender roles in a celebratory and often moving way, highlighting that every family, every father, is different and valuable. Dads is pitched squarely at those who need to hear this, and it has enough genuinely heart-warming material to be worth seeking out. Just be prepared to navigate a bit of celebrity smugness on the way to the good stuff.

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