I liked this movie, but my younger kids adored it. That was the difference. We talked quite a lot about it both immediately after the movie, that we saw at the local multiplex, and some six months afterwards. The film certainly made a deep impression on MY kids, that is for sure.
Vin Diesel is actually perfect for the title role, and in fact his very clumsiness that has been observed here, far from being ineptitude, is in fact carrying the whole point. This is far from being a "cute" movie. It deals with terrible events in the life of a family; again, the loss of a parent (a common theme these days, "Land before time", etc), and Vin Diesel's best intentioned and often tremendously slapstick take on the whole thing works well at the kind of level that joyously takes you away from the pain. I think the guy in the role of marine becoming hard and love-at-any-cost parent is a wonderful thing, and as finely done as I have ever seen.
But the undercurrent of the film - not obvious perhaps until you leave the cinema and it hits you some time later - is that Diesel's character in a way is hosting the Dad who we hardly see. He has been invisibly present throughout the film, and the family's love and coherence is a testimony to the integrity of this man, who has gone. The little dance for the small boy is the perfect vehicle for this rememberance. At this point I realised that this film was nothing more than a sincere and moving homage to fatherhood itself.
You might well miss this; but the cinema was dead quiet at that point. And like "Uncle Buck", if you have the eyes to see it, this film holds a tremendous and warm message; a love letter addressed to anyone who is a daddy; very remarkable.
I thoroughly recommend it.