INSTANT FAMILY Review — So Much More Than Your Basic Family Comedy

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Instant Family Review — One of those rare movies that actually entertains and inspires.

Instant Family ReviewFew things are more difficult to pull off than a movie with a message. Sure, documentaries do it all the time. That’s why many filmmakers make them. But a feel good comedy that can actually move audiences to make a real difference? Bless writer/director Sean Anders for even trying.

You see, it’s based on Anders’ real life story. Yes, the same guy who wrote Hot Tub Time Machine and more recently the Daddy’s Home films has taken on a serious subject in an endearing and comedic way: the U.S. foster care system. You can’t help but come away thinking, “is there anything I can do to help these kids?”

Anders and his wife originally intended to foster and possibly adopt one child, but somehow ended up with three. So that’s the set up for Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne), a couple that flips houses for a living, and innocently try to renovate their own lives as well by fostering a child.

They join a group of diverse parents who are all exploring fostering, led by an unlikely duo of counselors played by Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro. They soon learn that the hardest children to place are teenagers, and their situation is made even more tenuous when they have siblings who want to stay together.

In for a penny, in for a pound. They take on a surely teen and her younger brother and sister, all who have issues, as do the parents. Yes, it gets a little hokey as they try to work them out, and the comedy is a little forced at times. But the sentiment is sincere and the message is refreshingly earnest. Instant Family touches your funny bone as well as your heart.

The film can be forgiven minor flaws like a dreadful score and uneven pacing, because its heart is in the right place. And if it encourages even a handful of people to reach out to foster children in the process of entertaining the masses, I’d say it’s a film worth making and watching.

Rated PG-13

1 Hour 57 Minutes

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Instant Family Review — One of those rare movies that actually entertains and inspires.

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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