Watching Kevin Hart’s “Fatherhood” portrayal of widowed father Matt Logelin raising his baby daughter Maddy might seem like Hollywood fiction.
But the Netflix movie (now streaming) follows the major beats of the real Matt Logelin’s initially tragic but ultimately triumphant true tale, as told in his 2011 best-selling autobiography, “Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love.”
“Fatherhood” screenwriter Dana Stevens and director Paul Weitz consulted Logelin extensively, with Weitz saying he called constantly with changes during filming “to make sure any emotion or beat wasn’t false.”
“The movie captured the really intense emotions here,” says Logelin, whose wife Liz Logelin died 27 hours after giving birth to the couple’s daughter. “But the movie also fights to find the humor. Not everything that happened in my life was 100% awful all of the time.”
Key names, details like the high school sweethearts’ Minnesota origins, and the true story’s spirit ring true (except for the film’s mother-in-law portrayal).
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Matt’s actual mother-in-law was nothing like the screen version
“Fatherhood” mother-in-law, Marion (Alfre Woodard), while grieving the loss of her daughter Liz, is critical of Matt’s raw child-raising skills and pushes to take over parenting of her granddaughter Maddy.
“She’s the exact opposite of my actual mother-in-law,” says Logelin of his true in-law, Candee Goodman. “Candee is not overbearing. So that’s one big deviation from reality.”
Logelin understands that it makes for a better story to have the relatable conflict. “Some changes were necessary,” he says.
He also had time to prep Candee for the portrayal she would see onscreen.
“Candee was just like, well, the people who know me in real life know that this is not me, it’s been fictionalized,” says Logelin. “And while there are a lot of hard moments to watch in the movie, Candee loved how it turned out.”
Liz’s death is tragically accurate
Liz’s tragic 2008 death after childbirth is accurately portrayed. Maddy was born via an emergency caesarean section seven weeks early on March 24.The next morning, the new mother collapsed while being helped up to see Maddy and died of a pulmonary embolism.
“That scene in the hospital where she collapses is where I really start to kind of lose it, because it’s so incredibly accurate to my experience, with that kind of speed,” says Logelin. “After the greatest moment of your life, you don’t expect your wife to die the day after, to not have actually held our daughter.”
The scene where Matt breaks the news to his in-laws in this hospital hallway is hauntingly real. “That was exactly how that happened in real life. It was just awful,” says Logelin.
Matt caused real drama with a mom-filled parenting group
The “Fatherhood” trailer features the scene where Matt startles a mom-only parenting support group by entering and seeking help with Maddy.
In reality, Logelin had a similar experience after some mom friends encouraged him to join an online, mom-filled parenting group
“But the group had a vote and they said they wouldn’t let me in,” says Logelin. “So there was like a big schism in this Los Angeles-area moms group.”
Some quit in disgust and several breakaway members befriended and supported Logelin.
“We’d meet in the park, and I got a lot of advice from these moms,” he says. “It’s a pretty good parallel to what actually happened.”
The MacGyver feeding moment ‘absolutely’ took place
The scene where Matt and friend Jordan (Lil Rel Howery) concoct a method to feed Maddy during a basketball game “is absolutely a nod to something that happened,” says Logelin.
In Logelin’s case, he brought Maddy with friends to Dodgers Stadium, but steadfastly refused to leave the game early even though he had forgotten the baby’s bottle. He placed the baby formula into a water bottle, popped a hole with a purchased pin and fed contented Maddy from his seat.
“It was like a cow udder, basically squeezing formula into her mouth,” says Logelin. “That was an instance they wanted to hold onto in the film because it was such a great MacGyver parenting move,” he says.
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Matt eventually married Lizzie
“Fatherhood” Matt eventually starts dating Liz Swan (DeWanda Wise), whose name is remarkably similar to his deceased wife’s.
In reality, Logelin became involved with Lizzie Molyneux.
“We actually met on an airplane, we weren’t set up like in the movie. Lizzie is a writer for animated shows, not actually an animator. So there’s some deviation, but generally it’s pretty accurate,” says Logelin.
He insists he didn’t register the name similarity since his new love went by Lizzie.
“I swear it was months and it did not even occur to me,” he says. “It was only when I saw a piece of mail on her counter with ‘Elizabeth’ that it finally registered.”
The movie drama showing difficulties bringing Lizzie into the family was amplified. Matt and Lizzie married in 2018, have a daughter Bertie, 2, and will have their second daughter in October.
Maddy, now 13, has “embraced Lizzie as her mother and loves her to death. They gang up on me most of the time. It’s incredible to see the relationship they have.”
Matt still remembers Liz like she was here yesterday
Logelin was especially struck by Marion’s tearful movie line about her daughter’s death, “I remember like it was yesterday.”
These are the sentiments Logelin and Candee share, often.
“Maddy has been a daily reminder for the last 13 years of what happened. So we can still vividly remember the person that Liz was. And we still talk about Liz to this day,” says Logelin. “It does feel like this just happened yesterday. That’s a really tough thing to process, for everybody to realize how much time has passed. It all feels like it’s been so fast.”