Instant Family an instant hit with families

Sean Anders, the director of Instant Family, drew from his own experience adopting his three kids through the foster system while making this movie. Anders also directed We Are The Millers, the Daddy’s Home movies, and That’s My Boys, among others. (Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons)

I’ve lost faith in feel-good family comedy movies.  

They’re often extraordinarily not-funny in their desperate attempt to be funny, disgustingly cheesy for the sake of being heartwarming. They don’t “feel-good.” They feel cringey, a terrible second-hand embarrassing experience that’s thoroughly unenjoyable.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed Instant Family.

Instant Family chronicles the trials and tribulations of an approaching middle aged, childless couple (played by Rose Byrne and Mark Wahlberg) in their quest to start a family. Pete (Wahlberg) and Ellie (Byrne), who make their living by flipping houses, realize that there’s something missing in their life– children.

After going through a foster parent preparation course, and oddly enough, a foster kid fair (it’s uncomfortably akin to shopping for potential children, something Pete notes) they decide to take in rebellious teenager Lizzie (Isabela Moner). That is, until they realize that Lizzie is a package deal: she comes with two younger siblings—sweet-natured but hopelessly clumsy Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and the absolutely adorable but terrifyingly terrible Lita (Julianna Gamiz).

Ellie and Pete soon realize that foster care is much harder than initially expected. Lizzie is a wild and guarded teen. Her experience with raising her little siblings in the place of her mother, while remaining unwaveringly loyal to her, made her the source of tension in the household– especially with Ellie and her endearingly awkward and desperate attempts to be a good mom. Juan’s sensitive and obtuse nature makes it difficult for family members to get mad at him, despite giving Ellie and Pete many reasons to be. And Lita’s adorable cheeks mask the terror she inflicts with her high pitched screeches and destructive temper tantrums.

The journey to become a family comes with ups and downs; it tugs at the heartstrings while still remaining light and funny. Wahlberg and Byrne do a fantastic job playing clueless and loving parents, showing the humanity of characters whose stories aren’t typically told. The fostering process remains fairly realistic, although the movie did take some liberties; it’s a Hollywood movie, not a documentary.

Overall, Instant Family is a fantastic, family feel-good movie that shed some light on America’s fostering system and make you want to adopt your own foster kids, while still remaining entertaining. Watch it in a nearby theatre today!

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