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Culture Documentary

<em>Dads</em> is an unexpected Hollywood statement

(Apple TV+)

Documentary

Dads is an unexpected Hollywood statement

Amid serious flaws, new documentary extols the wonders of fatherhood

At their finest, dads provide, protect, play, and model pious behavior. And then there are those moments when even the best fathers prove they’re oh-so-fallen. 

The same goes for Dads, a new documentary directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of one of Hollywood’s favorite sons, director Ron Howard. Dads delights in the joys and challenges of fatherhood, and addresses a man’s responsibility to mother and child. It’s an unexpected—almost radical—statement from Hollywood.

But Dads avoids all talk of God and religion, champions un-Biblical relationships, and delivers a puzzling volume of expletives. Churches won’t be using this documentary as a teaching tool anytime soon, but neither will Planned Parenthood be looping Dads on TVs in its waiting rooms.

Besides her father, Howard mainly interviews comedy-minded celebrities: Conan O’Brien, Will Smith, Jimmy Kimmel, and others. Smith finds incredulous having a “thousand-page manual” for his television while being “sent home [from the hospital] with a baby—and nothing!”

Dads also drops in on noncelebrity fathers around the world doing their thing. These dads steal the show. A fed-up father in Japan wordlessly takes a sledgehammer to his son’s video game console as the tall, bleached-blond teen shrieks in horror.

Robert Selby of Virginia bitterly regrets the anger he initially felt at his girlfriend’s pregnancy. But recounting the birth of his son, who immediately underwent a heart procedure, Selby says, “I knew forever I’d be his protector.” When little RJ wraps his arms around his dad’s neck and tells him, “I love you with all my fixed heart,” I had to pause the film until I composed myself. Yet Selby and his girlfriend dismiss marriage: “We decided you don’t have to be married to be great parents.”

Two gay white partners live on a farm with their four adopted African American children, one of whom still suffers the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome. These big-hearted dads bear the image of the Father, but will they ever teach their children about Him?

Warm parenting anecdotes from Ron Howard and Kimmel stand in contrast to their myopic abortion advocacy. Last year, Kimmel mocked pro-lifers, and Howard said he’d boycott Georgia if the state’s heartbeat law went into effect. Apparently, they can’t see beyond their own dining room tables how abortion destroys other men’s children and opportunities to experience fatherhood—biological or adoptive.