"Distinctly Dad," A Review

Sorry, but I'm going to come right out and tell you how it ends. The final scene of "Distinctly Dad. A film by Johnson & Johnson," is a father and his daughter running up a hill together, then pausing at the top, their arms around each other.

It's cheesy, but not wretchedly so, and other than that, "Distinctly Dad" manages to successfully straddle the emotional line between genuinely moving and sappiness.

The film, just under six minutes in length, introduces us to three American families and their Dads. We see the Dads interacting with their kids, while they share their thoughts on fatherhood.

The family action is punctuated by shots of a Yale School of Medicine professor, Kyle Pruett, M.D., who talks about the ways kids benefit from "engaged fathering." These include a heightened sense of curiosity, better problem solving and stronger verbal skills (wonder if that includes swearing?). Dr. Pruett's avuncular presence provides a scientific counterbalance to the emotional scenes of Dads and kids. The combination works nicely.

From a technical perspective, "Distinctly Dad," has the high-level production values you'd expect from Johnson & Johnson (full disclosure; I occasionally do some communications work for J&J), but not what you're accustomed to seeing on YouTube (where it presently has 900,000+ views). Many of the scenes are dimly lit, shot with a handheld camera and use soft focus. The affect gives the scenes a warm sense of intimacy. A minimal, electronic music track plays throughout, and only slips into the cheesiness zone on a couple occasions.

Certainly the most touching part of "Distinctly Dad" is the story of the Dad (Mr. Brown--we never get his first name) who creatively figures out ways to keep his young daughter from realizing they are homeless. He draws strength and inspiration from her. I won't tell you how this part ends.

The film finishes with the thought that one of the most difficult things for fathers to realize is how irreplaceable they are. Yes, there are times--particularly when I feel like little more than a glorified chauffeur and ATM--when I can relate to that thought. However, having lost my Dad over 30 years ago, I know that it is unshakably true.