“Instant Family” brief movie review

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Surprisingly good! You’ll want to adopt this movie into your heart. Have you ever seen a trailer for a new theatrical release and just assumed it was another generic Hallmark or Lifetime movie making its debut on the big screen? That is precisely what I thought of Mark Wahlberg’s Instant Family. In fact, the only reason I watched it last night was because there wasn’t anything else (and I didn’t want to see the neutered Deadpool cash grab). But, I am glad that I decided to watch it! Not for reasons that it’s a “great film,” but because it was a heartwarming, inspirational story told effectively! There is a refreshing unapologetic approach to familial conflict that holds nothing back. It’s a no-holds-barred dramedy that addresses the mountains and valleys of fostering/adoption, specifically sibling fostering/adoption. If I was to liken this movie to one that we are largely familiar with, I would compare it to Parenthood, but one that is for the 21st century and concerns itself with the foster system. The movie, through the trailers, sets itself up to be an over-the-top comedy, but it was far from being a farce or slapstick comedy. When Instant Family comes from the same director of Daddy’s Home and Daddy’s Home 2, you already have preconceived notions of what the experience of this movie is going to be. Fortunately for audiences, this movie is far from the former two. And why is that? The short answer is that there is a sort of flawed humanity underscoring everything. No pretense about any of the characters. If you’re looking for authenticity, a realness about true-to-life characters, situations, and conflict, then you will definitely want to catch Instant Family.

When Pete and Ellie decide to start a family, they stumble into the world of foster care adoption. They hope to take in one small child, but when they meet three siblings, including a rebellious 15-year-old girl, they find themselves speeding from zero to three kids overnight. Now, Pete and Ellie must try to learn the ropes of instant parenthood in the hope of becoming a family. (IMDb)

While there is a lot of satire in the movie, there is never a moment that you lose your empathy for Pete and Ellie. They come from families that could very well be your own, with all the jabs, competition, and patronization that comes along with them. Even the adoption center and fair scenes, there are elements of the conversations and experiences that may be exaggerated for comedic purposes, but they are all still very much grounded in reality. Pete and Ellie are extremely eager to do a good job, and even employ some of the same approaches they use for flipping houses, but in stead use them to flip people. Some of the irreverent jokes are hilarious! There is one about rebranding foster children as rescue children like the pound for animals was rebranded rescue. The movie also takes audiences behind the faces at the adoption center to reveal the tragic, hard lives that the children and teens come from. Truly highlights the importance of looking at becoming a foster or adoptive family in order to give a child a nice home. Beyond the social commentary on the adoption and foster system, there is also a lesson to be learned that can apply to any number of areas of our lives. Such as knowing precisely why you want to do something, not just the fact you feel it’s what is supposed to be done. The movie will hit you with thought-provoking moments that will force you to face what you think of foster kids and the foster system. I also appreciate the movie for depicting difference kinds of parents–quite the modern bunch! So much diversity is represented, and each prospective parent(s) is inspired by ones encountered by the writer-director Sean Anders’ own journey as he and his wife adopted three siblings.

This is a shorter review because I am getting busy with the end of the semester, but I wanted to provide some brief thoughts on it anyhow. After this week, I’ll be back to my regular article entries.

Ryan is a screenwriting professor at the University of Tampa. If you like this article, check out the others and FOLLOW this blog!

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