Instant Family: Heartwarming and Inspiring

Rose Byrne, Mark Wahlberg, Octavia Spencer and Isabela Moner in Instant Family from Paramount Pictures.

Both heartwarming and inspiring, Instant Family is a family comedy that displays the importance that comes with being a foster parent.

When one learns about Sean Anders’ history as a father, Instant Family comes off as a passion project.  It’s quite a different film than Daddy’s Home despite the casting of Mark Wahlberg.  This is their third film together and much better than the last one released a year ago.  It’s Anders’ most personal film to date.  There’s no other way to describe the comedy.  Where Daddy’s Home speaks to blended families, Instant Family speaks to the heroic people who decide to foster children.

What became an offhand remark from Pete Wagner (Mark Walhberg) leads his wife, Ellie (Rose Byrne) to make a life-changing decision.  After all, the two are in a rut and looking for new challenges.  One such challenge is deciding to become a foster parent.  What they ultimately do is some “next level shit” as Ellie comments.  The two of them go through a rigourous eight week foster parenting certification course run by Sharon (Tig Notaro) and Karen (Octavia Spencer).  This enables them to bring a trio of siblings into their home following the adoption fair where they meet Lizzy (Isabela Moner).  It turns out that Lizzy has two younger siblings, Juan (Gustavo Quiroz), and Lita (Julianna Gamiz).  After meeting them, they move in but it takes some time for the family to bond.

By the time the Wagners bond with their foster children, birth mother Carla (Joselin Reyes) is back in the fold.  This brings new challenges especially once the family visits disrupt their family life.  Pete and Ellie’s behavior comes off as selfish in their support group.

While this is a comedy, the best joke doesn’t even come from the mouths of Wahlberg or Byrne.  Not even Spencer or Notaro have the best gags but these two come very close.  No, the best joke comes by way of October Ross Jennings (Iliza Shlesinger).  The comedian shared a clip on her Twitter so please see how this joke speaks for itself:

Knowing the background of the children, you can’t help but root for their happiness in Instant Family.  Nobody wants to see them end up back in the system.  Whether it’s back with Carla or the Wagners, we just want them to be happy.

Isabela Moner, who stars as Lizzie, is quite the rising star with appearances in Transformers: The Last Knight and Sicario 2.  Interestingly enough, Wahlberg played a father-figure to her the Transformers film.  The chemistry between the two of them are clear especially during the film’s third act.  I’m looking forward to seeing which roles Moner selects as she transitions from child actor to young adult.

Even though it’s a comedy, Anders’ personal connection allows for Instant Family to hit all the right emotional beats without going for a full-blown drama.

DIRECTOR:  Sean Anders
SCREENWRITERS:  Sean Anders & John Morris
CAST:  Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner, Tig Notaro, Margo Martindale, Julie Hagerty, Michael O’Keefe, and Octavia Spencer

Paramount Pictures opens Instant Family in theaters on November 9, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.