Show Me the Father (2021)

Genres - Culture & Society, Family & Personal Relationships  |   Sub-Genres - Docudrama  |   Release Date - Sep 10, 2021 (USA)  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by David Carlson

Show Me the Father, a heartwarming documentary that explores the meaning of fatherhood, comes to the cinema by way of Affirm Films and is directed by Rick Altizer (Chonda Pierce: Unashamed). The film offers viewers a glimpse into the lives of various people who have moving stories of what being a dad means to them, as well as instances when a lack of a father had a detrimental effect on their lives. Overall encouraging, the film offers hope for those let down by the absence of a terrestrial father by experiencing a celestial one.

The documentary makes a clear argument of how unfortunate it is to grow up without a dad, or with an abusive one. This is not only backed up by depressingly accurate statistics that are flashed upon the screen at a certain moment, but also by heartfelt testimonies of athletes and other personalities who have poignant stories of not being able to grow up with a father figure. The film also argues for what a father truly is, what he offers his children, and why what he offers is needed, especially in today's society. The filmmakers state that a father is a helper, protector, teacher, leader, provider, encourager, and friend. And at the heart of the message is the notion to connect with God, a perfect father whom people often project negative qualities because of how they view earthly fathers.

Several components of Show Me the Father make it work very well. The photography is quite impressive and compliments the interviews, which come across as sincere. Sherman Smith, Jim Daly, Eddie George, Stephen Kendrick, and Deland McCullough join others, including mothers, in telling personal stories of what parenthood, and specifically fatherhood, means to them as well as challenging the audience to contemplate how they currently view the topic. The personal experiences build upon each other, culminating in a final payoff that is worth the price of admission. The editing deserves a special mention, as although the scenes initially seem a bit uneven, beautiful testimonies of adoption, reconnection, and faith intermingle satisfactorily to the end, and by that time, viewers will have had plenty of opportunities to tear up from the emotional message.

Regardless of one's religious views, the touching stories involving connections between fathers and children are enough to melt hearts and moisten eyes. That said, it will likely connect more with those who identify as Christian, as Jesus Christ is portrayed to be the way to connect with God. It could also be frowned upon by those threatened by mentioning patriarchy, depending on how much they associate the term with the title and contents of the film. For most, however, there is enough authenticity and uplifting moments in the testimonies to touch the audience's hearts in a positive way.