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“Instant Family” Fun and Heartfelt




Review by John Delia

Nicely acted with creative directing, but the bottom line is…its one man’s reality pressing for a need to spread the word. For the fantasy of it all however, the comedy gets high pitched, the mind has a chance to think and the heart gets a good massage. Do I recommend Instant Family? Absolutely, it’s brilliant!

Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) have been enjoying their lives, but Ellie still has something missing, a child. Now with her time clock nearly expired, she looks for a substitute. Since Pete’s comment “at my age It would have to be a 5-year-old to start with”, Ellie has come up with the idea of foster parenthood. But, with that comes a big responsibility and a lot of baggage. Nevertheless, Pete and Ellie jump right into the fire and decide to foster not one, but three kids from the same family, 15 year old Lizzy (Isabela Moner), 10 year old Juan (Gustavo Quiroz), and 6 year old Lita (Juliana Garniz).

Rose Byrne and Mark Wahlberg in Instant Family from Paramount Pictures.

What happens next is a treasure trove of misunderstandings, all leading to situations way beyond Pete and Ellie’s comprehensions. Then there’s the foster care group meetings, awkwardness of Juan, insecurities of Lita and the big one…Lizzy’s infatuation with 22 year old Jacob (Nicholas Logan). Director and co-writer Sean Anders (Daddy’s Home, Sex Drive) opens with a lot of fun introducing his main characters, adding family opinions and then there’s Grandma Sandy in competition with Grandma Jan, and on and on until you wet your pants with laughter. Oh, I love the reference to HGTV’s Chip and Joanne Gaines on “Fixer Upper”.

Tig Notaro and Octavia Spencer in Instant Family from Paramount Pictures.

The leads are two of the best in the business Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne. Together they are a laugh riot trying to figure out if they have made a mistake in taking on three kids. Wahlberg is used to playing the daddy as he’s had a lot of practice with Daddy’s Home 1 and 2. Here he’s Pete who’s up against more than he can chew and he’s getting himself deeper as the family starts spiraling down. But, it’s him who really receives the credit for showing that no matter how bad it looks, it can get worse.

Rose Byrne puts on her mother mask and turns the film into a perfect storm of coping with daily life with uncaring children who think it’s “just another foster home on the road to unhappiness”. As Ellie, she wants to show she can be a good mom, but getting through to kids that have been emotionally hurt by the misdeeds of their drug driving mother has become an insurmountable challenge. But, she sees a silver lining and grabs at it until she almost breaks. I like Byrne she has been a favorite of mine and I still have visions of her from Neighbors 1 & 2 as I write this article.

Rose Byrne and Isabela Moner in Instant Family from Paramount Pictures.

But, Instant Family is more than just a situation comedy, it’s a hard look at the numbers of kids in the Forster Family system. It’s not about how they got there, but how American’s can handle the lack of family in their lives. It has been estimated that nearly half a million children have been put into the situation. For those who do this selfless job my hat is off to you. For those who actually adopt the children they foster, I bow down to you.

Instant Family has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for thematic elements, sexual material, language and some drug references. The sexual material is not a complete visual but a quick reference to a telephone text message. The language is a bit rude and profane and the drug references are just that.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very good film that’s funny, but gets to the point. (4.5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner, Qustavo Quiroz, Juliana Garniz, Octavia spencer, and Margo Martindale
Directed and co-written by: Sean Anders (Daddy’s Home, Sex Drive)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
MPAA Rating:  PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual material, language and some drug references
Running Time: 1 hr. 59 min.
Opening Date: November 16, 2018
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Released in: Standard

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