Instant Family brings the frank discussion about the trials of parenting and foster to the forefront of this genuinely funny and sincere production.
Director: Sean Anders
Summary: A couple find themselves in over their heads when they adopt three children.
At the beginning of the critics screening for Instant Family, writer and director Sean Anders came on screen to explain that this movie is based on his life and the decision he made with his wife to adopt three foster kids. Even if that little statement at the beginning wasn’t there, it was very apparent during the movie that this was a story being presented with the kind of sincerity that comes from someone actually living it. The thing about family is that it’s all insanity and barely getting by even under the best circumstances.
This movie is funny because it’s honest about some of the things that happen when you become a parent to multiple kids overnight. There are a lot of frustrations, but there are also a lot of good moments. Instant Family does a great job of balancing the good with the bad and showing how important the little steps forward can be.
At the same time, it doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to the bad stuff either. The fights between the kids and the parents are brutal and there are some truly heart-wrenching moments. There are scenes toward the end of this movie that will leave you crying in the theater, even if one of them is ruined by a bizarre cameo. While there is drama, the movie doesn’t feel like it’s being too over the top. The most dramatic scene comes toward the end, and it feels like the movie has earned it by then.
All of the kids do a great job but stars Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne both place off of each other extremely well. Byrne is already an extremely talented comedic actress and Wahlberg’s over-enthusiasm works well here when he’s playing a giant dork of a dad. Maybe we need to stop casting Marky-Mark as an action hero and let him be the big dorky dad we all know he is secretly. It’s much more believable anyway. Isabela Moner continues to impress as the teenage girl who had to grow up too fast but never lost faith in her family, while supporting players like Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro bring the laughs and the heart whenever they are on screen.
This isn’t to say that it’s a perfect movie. The jokes mostly work, the heartfelt moments tug at the strings, but this movie isn’t here to change your life. It’s mostly here so the director and writer can raise awareness on how rewarding adoption can be while not sugarcoating it for people who might be getting into it for the wrong reasons.
Instant Family is a feel-good family movie that you’ll be laughing and crying through. The comedy works and it’ll make you smile but it’s not afraid to punch you in the gut with the reality of the situation.
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