Book Review: Fatherhood, the Baby Daddy way? Jamie Foxx’s “Act Like You Got Some Sense”

Jamie Foxx may be an Oscar winner, and an accomplished musician, singer and stand-up, too. But he’d seem an unlikely candidate for a book on fathering.

Not Herschel Walker unlikely. But a party animal, good-time TV and movie star with two daughters by two different women unlikely.

So his book is about what he learned about staying in his kids’ lives, getting along with their mothers, a working class kid raised by his spare the rod (NOT) grandparents who tried to figure out how to not “ruin” or “spoil” his girls, who would grow up rich.

The book’s like Foxx himself, born Eric Bishop in downscale suburban Terrell, Texas. He’s a scamp and owns it, unfiltered and proud of it, and charming and self-effacing enough to pull it all off.

He charts his the ways his grandmother set him up for success — piano lessons, strict discipline, not letting him run with “no count hoodlums” or miscreants he knew, letting his granddad administer the whippings.

“My grandmother taught me that even if I wasn’t married, I had to be a gentleman and take care of mine.” The baby might be unplanned, but committing to “take care of” mother and child, support the children well into adulthood, is simply the right thing to do.

Seems like a no-brainer, but plenty of men don’t grasp it and don’t act like they’ve “got some sense” in such matters. His own, for starters. His grandparents, Estelle and Mark Talley raised him because his mother couldn’t and his father, an ex-con who did not grow paternal by joining the Nation of Islam, wouldn’t.

And he talks about his rise through the showbiz ranks, figuring out stand-up was a gift that could open doors when the piano could not.

But that’s all folded in with fathering advice, which as he points out in the book’s title, the “things My Daughters Taught Me.”

“Dad Rule No. 1, You Gotta Show Up.”

Some of these pearls are #JamieFoxx problems, a tad rich and entitled, like learning that letting your kid tag along to a party weekend in Miami or Vegas, with “Leo” and the other skirt chasers, isn’t the equivalent of spending quality time with them.

Any dad who drags the kids fishing if they don’t like it, to ballgames they’ve lost interest in or what have you might get something from that.

He tells tales about growing up in Terrell, thanks Miss Reese, the teacher who “made a deal” with the class cut-up, who’d taken to disrupting the class with routines he’d memorized from “The Tonight Show” comics. She gave him ten minutes at the end of class on Friday if he’d give her a week of peace.

The best Hollywood anecdote might be the former high school footballer’s memories of trying out for “Any Given Sunday,” getting brushed off by Oliver Stone more than once, an antic, mugging “TV sitcom comic” who got told “You’re no good” to his face.

Foxx dialed it down, got some pals to shoot a little football play-running and on-field trash talking, and Stone was won over.

The fathering stuff? Getting in the faces of boys dating his daughters and not treating them with respect, the warnings about ulterior motives of some such guys, the perils of social media exposure that enables stalkers, may have “rich guy problems” on the veneer. A boyfriend taken on a father-daughter trip to Paris who then ditches a daughter at the Louvre is gonna get some Texas style Black dad threats unprintable here.

But as Corrinne and Anelise never make the scandal sites and rarely even turn up as gossip, even though neither has gotten famous in her own right, despite some serious showbiz dabbling, you have to appreciate the results.

“Act Like You Got Some Sense, and Other Things I Taught My Daughters My Daughters Taught Me.” By Jamie Foxx. 221 pages. Grand Central Publishing. $30.

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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