Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) Wagner are a loving couple who spend most of their time “flipping” homes together. Pete does the renovations, while Ellie lends her interior design talents. Their Chip and Joanna-esque business has left little time for expanding their family and the two begin to explore adoption. Before long, Ellie and Pete take in three siblings and find themselves overwhelmed by their challenging “instant family”.
This film has a lot of heart and provides big laughs that land well for adults and kids alike. Its strong messages about love and family make it the perfect pick for this Thanksgiving holiday.
I’m a sucker for a good story and I must say that this one tugs on all the right heart strings. Many people will see themselves reflected in these characters because they are so well developed. The script is great and it brings out the very best in stars like Wahlberg and Byrne, who have a great chemistry with one another. The jokes are well placed (and well executed) and I really enjoyed this cast full of gems.
Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro co-star as social workers named Karen and Sharon respectively. They are the comedy duo I never knew I needed! They serve as sage guides who walk Ellie and Pete through the fostering process and their presence provided a lot of credibility to the film. Moreover, the things they taught the Wagners and other couples in their support group, were realistic and helpful for audiences. I think it was wise on the part of the filmmakers to show not only the “good” parts of adopting like bonding with the kids and seeing them start to flourish, but also showing the not-so good moments like toddler meltdowns and the antics of a rebellious teenager.
I can only imagine the challenges that come with directing young actors, which is why I’m impressed by the three at the center of Instant Family. Isabela Moner, Gustavo Quiroz and Julianna Gamiz are naturals in front of the camera. They got on incredibly well with Wahlberg and Byrne and I believed everything about their characters. While they were troubled and certainly a handful, they had the potential to be well-adjusted and happy kids. They just needed someone who would love them and nurture them.
It’s hard to find anything negative to say, but if I had to name one gripe it would be the film’s use of language. There is an “F” bomb and lots of other expletives throughout. For parents who are easily offended about that kind of thing, I give you fair warning. Even still, Instant Family is sure to lift your spirits and maybe even encourage your family to consider fostering or adopting children in the future.
Instant Family is directed by Sean Anders (Horrible Bosses 2), who wrote the script along with John Morris (Daddy’s Home). It’s actually inspired by the real-life adoption experience of Anders and his wife! The film stars: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Octavia Spencer, Tig Notaro, Margo Martindale, Julie Hargerty, Isabela Moner, Gustavo Quiroz and Julianna Gamiz. It’s currently in theaters now.
Happy Thanksgiving y’all!