Friday, November 16, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Instant Family (2018)

I really enjoy Mark Wahlberg, so when I saw that his new movie was a change-of-pace family film rather than an action movie, I was immediately interested.

I'm happy to report that INSTANT FAMILY (2018) is a thoroughly entertaining film. In a story "inspired by true events," Wahlberg and Rose Byrne play Pete and Ellie, a happily married couple with a business remodeling and restoring homes. They've deferred having a family but when jolted into the realization that time's running out, they decide to look into the possibility of becoming foster parents, with the ultimate goal being adoption.

Although initially looking for a younger child, they meet 15-year-old Lizzy (Isabela Moner) at a "meet and greet" picnic for potential foster parents, and they're taken by her smart but sassy personality. They're surprised when told Lizzy has two younger siblings, Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz), but the kids are so cute they decide to go for it and take all three children.

All is well during the initial "honeymoon" phase, but as the kids become more comfortable, ironically that's when they begin showing the stresses of having been raised (or not) by a drug-addicted parent (Joselin Reyes). There are times when the kids act out and Pete and Ellie briefly wish they could quit, but those moments of frustration are pushed aside when beautiful things happen, like being called "Mommy" or "Daddy."

The film was directed by Sean Anders, from a script by Anders and John Morris, and to its credit it avoids being overly sappy or maudlin, with a good sense of humor throughout; in fact at times it's riotously funny. This is due in part to a superb supporting cast who hit all the right humorous notes, including Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro as a team of social workers, Margo Martindale and Julie Hagerty as Pete and Ellie's mothers, Michael O'Keefe as Ellie's dad, and Joan Cusack, who has a very funny sequence as a neighbor.

Wahlberg and Byrne are winning as the would-be parents, and the three young actors are all solid, believably presented as children who are both appealing and troubled. The challenges raising them are clear but so are the rewards.

The movie was filmed by Brett Pawlak, with Georgia standing in for California.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG-13. Some thematic elements and language are adult, but on the positive side it's an uplifting story of family and commitment.

A trailer may be seen here.

I had a very nice evening watching this one. Recommended.

Previous reviews of Mark Wahlberg films: THE ITALIAN JOB (2003), CONTRABAND (2012), TWO GUNS (2013), DEEPWATER HORIZON (2016), and PATRIOTS DAY (2016).


Blogger Hamlette (Rachel) said...

This intrigues me, and it's one I may get from Redbox or the library when it comes to DVD. Glad to hear you liked it!

2:45 PM  

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