Film Review – Apple TV Documentary “Dads”

Parenting documentaries are a dime a dozen. All feature kids of course. But while most profile both the dads and the moms (mostly the moms), few focus primarily on dads.

Unless it’s religious in nature.

Like the excellent 2014 documentary by Focus on the Family called “Irreplaceable.” As well as most films (War Room; Courageous) done by the Kendrick brothers. These focus on the critical role dads play in families and society from a spiritual and societal point of view.

Recently though, I watched a non-religious Apple TV+ original production released just before Father’s Day 2020. Called simply “Dads“, this documentary was helmed by Bryce Dallas Howard, actress (Jurassic World trilogy) and daughter of award-winning film director Ron Howard (Apollo 13; A Beautiful Mind).

It was Bryce’s first foray into directing.

Her reason for wanting to do this? …I wanted to know more about what it takes to be a father and celebrate all the great dads out there.”


A feel-good tribute to Dads

kids playing wooden blocks with their father
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

Being a Hollywood-type project, you will of course expect gloss and glamour.

But there’s also grit too. And poo. Lots of it!

As a Hollywood production, you will also expect to see celebrity dads interviewed. In fact, many famous comedians appeared in this film. From Conan O’Brien to Will Smith. From Jimmy Kimmel to Jimmy Falon.

And of course filmmaker Ron himself.

But not all were famous faces from Hollywood. Ordinary everyday dads from other places were also featured throughout the 81-minute film.

There was a man from Rio de Janeiro who stepped into the role of fatherhood despite not having a dad in his own life. A Japanese father in Tokyo who decided to become a stay-at-home dad after recovering from an autoimmune disease. A white American gay couple caring for four African foster children on a remote farm in Maryland.

But throughout the film, the frequent inclusion of homemade videos, especially ones showing Bryce’s birth and the birth of her niece, also gave a sneak peek into the private lives of the Howard clan.

Understandable, since it’s Bryce’s tribute to dads (especially to her dad, brother, and granddad) and, as she made clear from the start, a celebration of “great dads out there.

The message in this film, that dads truly can be heroes to their children through time and sacrifice despite the odds, rings soundly through.

Championing for more hands-on dads

Free Father and Daughter during sunset

Source: Active Healthy Kids

At this point, though obvious, I best come clean regardless.

I’m biased when it comes to dads. After all, I’ve been one for nearly 14 years now. So I’d like to believe I know a thing or two about parenting. [Of course, if I’m really coming clean, I must also confess there are actually more days I feel like I know nothing!]

And if you ask me, I will daily champion the rights — better yet the needs — of children to have ever-present and loving dads in their daily lives.

In fact, I would go as far as to say contemporary trends of declining total fertility rates (TFR) everywhere have as their root cause erroneous perceptions of the role of dads (and moms) in society.

The recent announcements by countries like South Korea and Singapore — that in 2022 they hit historic annual TFR lows of 0.78 and 1.05 respectively — make this an urgent issue we ignore at our own peril.

Without dads playing more visible, engaged, and long-term roles on the domestic front, I fear TFRs everywhere will continue to plunge!

I’ll talk more about this in future posts.

Now back to the film and what the dads in it had to say about “dad-dom”.

Quotable Quotes by dads…for dads

man with two boys
Photo by Victoria Akvarel on

No doubt the sentiments expressed below aren’t all that new.

But I think they bear repeating.

Plus, they summarise in no small way what it often takes to be a great dad.

So take it away guys!

“I think a big part of the fatherhood narrative is still a very old narrative of the father goes into the wilderness… and finds supplies and kills an elk. But actually your kid wants you there.” – Patton Oswalt

“(I) went from providing to going all the way in…and you look like a dork if you’re not.”vlogger Glen Henry

“You can’t even write some of the stuff I go through!” – Glen Henry again

“Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. We don’t have to make our family perfect. Just make it wonderful. That, I learned from my dad.” – Ken Jeong

“Having a kid is the meaning of life. It gives you a job. It gives you a purpose. This is my purpose. As soon as Winnie was born, I lost my name. I’m not Jimmy Fallon anymore. I’m Winnie’s dad.” – Jimmy Falon

My favorite lines though were from Ron:

“I think children flourish when they know they’re loved....when they’re as safe as they can be…when good examples are set for them. To the extent you can create that environment for kids, I think you’re doing about all you can do.”

“…it may be that one person really has to work 75 hours a week…And if there’s an agreement, then make it a strategy. But don’t make it an escape hatch.”

“What ultimately adds up is what your children see, what they witness. The way you as a father live your life. What kind of an example do you set? Not everybody can make it to every game or any game. Not everybody can sit there and do homework with their kid because they might be carrying three jobs.

This is something that as a society, we have to acknowledge – the importance of what a father means. And then we have to also think about trying to create a society that facilitates them to do their best. Because at his best, a father provides a kind of consistent sense of safety and therefore a possibility.”

So whether you’re a new or seasoned dad, you need to be celebrated for it the way we do for moms.

Every single day.

And this film helps you — and I — do just that!

2 thoughts on “Film Review – Apple TV Documentary “Dads”

  1. What a timely subject, especially since we’ve just discussed the family thing last week, lol. I wonder if I’ll ever be a decent dad, or if I’ll ever be ready. Sometimes, even taking care of myself seems like enough of a challenge. Those quotes were a great touch though.

    1. Yeah I thought you would see the timeliness of my post haha! Don’t worry, just have fun and love your family. That’s the most important thing. You’ve got this!

Leave a Reply