Everything we have seen about impending childbirth on film so far-- from "Nine Months" to "Knocked Up"-- has focused on the mother's experience with the dad-to-be along for the ride, seemingly to only offer uneducated attempts at comedic relief for their stressed out better halves. Snapper Lounge Media, PNM Productions, and Leslie Marsh have set out to rectify that now, though, with "Being Dad," an eighty-minute journey of what the various stages of pregnancy are like for the men "behind the scenes," so to speak. In some very real and very touchingly honest discussions with dads from all across the United States, "Being Dad" is one part informative educational tool and one part sentimental documentary.
"Being Dad" opens on Troy, a young man who's expecting his first child. Though the first minute or so tells us that Troy only has twelve hours until his baby is born, the film then backtracks through time to explore his nine-month journey. Footage of Troy attending to cravings, doctors appointments, Lamaze classes, and nursery preparations is few and far between, though, and mostly entails Troy talking directly to the camera about something his off-screen wife has said. Marsh, then, relies on a healthy combination of interviews with medical professionals as well as a random combination of strangers to cover a wide variety of possible experiences or any first time father.
Men from all over the country-- California, New York, Chicago, Boston-- were interviewed on-camera in "Being Dad," presumably to give their words a universal appeal. Since we only meet them after the fact, and we never see them interact with either a pregnant wife or a baby, it's easy to put their words and stories onto just about anyone: they could be our brothers, our neighbors, our co-workers, or our old college buddies. Sitting around, drinking some beers and sharing their stories, they are snappy and exceptionally comfortable, despite the intimate nature of what they are saying, and that, in turn, is refreshing. Through these guys, "Being Dad" seems to become much more about these nameless "everyman" dads than Troy. Though there is a brief moment in the very first restaurant that we see Troy sitting at the table and laughing, too, Marsh then quickly opts for close-ups of the men talking rather than reaction shots of the man for whom everything is about to change. Getting in so close on these expressive faces just makes the viewing experience that much more emotional and investing, as well, and though instead of identifying only with Troy, we end up losing ourselves in recollections about pregnancy tests, morning sickness, miscarriages, and much, much more. Being Dad suddenly becomes everyone's story, and opening it up in such a way not only makes it more accessible but also more relatable.
Marsh uses title cards to separate her "chapters" of "Being Dad" in the most blatant way to tell the audience what to expect next, which is almost poetic in that we are so prepared when the dads were so completely blindsided just months earlier. "Being Dad" is a somewhat unexpectedly sentimental look at fatherhood, but a word to the wise that it may not be for the skittish dads, as when we finally rejoin Troy, he is in the delivery room about to meet his baby for the first time, and just as all of the men were completely candid in their discussions, the camera is completely candid in what it shows. And really, in those moments, Being Dad's cinematography acts almost as a metaphor for its general message: just when you think you're getting comfortable, something throws you for a complete loop. And really, that's fatherhood in a nutshell.