Instant Family

Mark Wahlberg ditches the diet for once
7/10 - Instant Family is uplifting, life-affirming and full of laughs and heart
Release Date: 
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Written by: 

Mark Wahlberg has reunited with his Daddy Home's director Sean Anders for this heartwarming family comedy.


Following his success with comedies We're the Millers, Horrible Bosses 2, and the Daddy's Home franchise, director Sean Anders has turned to his own life for inspiration for his latest writing-directing project, about a couple who find themselves in over their heads when they foster three siblings.

Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne are Pete and Ellie, a married couple who have a thriving property development business.

One day they have a discussion about having kids and Pete jokes that they're too old to have a baby, so it would be better if they got one older, and that inspires Ellie to look into fostering and adoption.

They subsequently sign up for classes run by fostering advisers Karen (Octavia Spencer) and Sharon (Tig Notaro) and attend an adoption fair, where they meet 15-year-old Lizzy (Isabela Moner) and consider fostering her. But there's a catch - she has siblings and they can't be separated.

Pete and Ellie make the leap and foster Lizzy, her 10-year-old brother Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and six-year-old sister Lita (Julianna Gamiz) and find themselves being truly tested by the unruly children.

They face a fight to establish trust and discipline and form a loving family unit, especially when their birth mother Carla (Joselin Reyes) is released from prison and reenters their lives.

You can tell that Instant Family was written by someone with inside knowledge about the ups-and-downs of fostering, because the dialogue, particularly between Pete and Ellie, feels very realistic, honest, and well-observed.

The film isn't the light, fluffy family comedy viewers might come to expect from Anders - there's much more to it than that.

While it is funny, it is also surprisingly moving and you really come to care about every member of the family and hope they can work through their issues and stay together.

The film is at its best when it's being a family drama as some of the more obvious attempts at humour mostly fall flat in comparison to the laughs that occur organically.

Wahlberg and Byrne make a great team and create an enjoyable dynamic together.

Ellie struggles the most developing a bond with the children so Byrne has the most work to do both emotionally and comedically, but she easily delivers.

Moner, 17, proved that she is destined for big things with a touching performance, while Wahlberg and the other two children brought the fun and the heart.

They get top support from Spencer and Notaro, who form a delightful comedy duo as the fostering advisers - Karen is direct and tells it how it is while Sharon takes a more diplomatic approach - as well as Margo Martindale and Julie Hagerty as the kids' new grandparents.

Instant Family is probably a touch too long, the screenplay lags in places and the attempts at comedy are weak sometimes, but the family drama makes you forget all that.

It is a sweet, kind-hearted film that is uplifting and will leave you with a smile on your face.

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