My husband and I were ready for a holiday comedy and Instant Family delivered with an authentic, heartwarming tale that made us both laugh and tear up. We both left the theater saying how enjoyable the movie was both for the touching story and the laughs.
House flippers Pete, played by Mark Wahlberg, and Ellie, played by Rose Byrne, decide almost by accident to start a family by adopting a child through foster care. At first they are on the fence about doing it, but their family’s lack of confidence in the idea cements their resolve to go forward in this adventure. And what a ride it turns out to be, as Pete and Ellie attend foster parenting classes where they encounter a variety of comical characters each with their own agenda for the perfect child. At a children’s fair, they don’t really relate to any of the kids, until Pete decides to approach the teenagers because no one is interested in kids of that age. They connect with spunky 15-year-old Lizzie, played perfectly by Isabela Moner, and soon find themselves fostering three children when they learn that Lizzie has two younger siblings, Juan and Lita. Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro play the ying and yang social workers who help them navigate through this rewarding and challenging process.
Just as you would imagine, the hilarity of instant parenthood for three children kept us and the audience laughing throughout the film. The movie gives an authentic sense of foster parenting and adopting as it depicts real life scenarios and a variety of family types involved in the process.
Based on the real-life experience of writer and director Sean Anders, the film shows the positive and the challenges of helping the nearly 500,000 children in foster care. One of our favorite scenes in the movie is when Pete takes new daughter Lizzie to a home project where he encourages her to get out her anger by helping with demolition. When Lizzie questions why they want to adopt them, Pete and Ellie really don’t have an answer until the realization hits them when the kids’ birth mother shows up and wants to possibly reunite. At that point, they truly understand that their lives had been missing something and the kids more than filled that void. You will melt, as we did, the first time the kids call them Daddy and Mommy, and laugh at the bumps they encounter along the way as they truly bond as a forever family.
Mark Wahlberg helped produce this Paramount Pictures movie, and he and Rose Byrne did an excellent job portraying both the positives and missteps of sudden parenthood and family love. Some other audience members agreed that this is a funny, genuine, feel good movie that will make you laugh and feel blessed.
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Director: Sean Anders
Written By: Sean Anders, John Morris
Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Octavia Spencer, Tig Notaro, Margo Martindale
Running Time: 117 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (for some thematic elements, sexual material, language)