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'Instant Family'—Movie Review

A Family Film That's Deeper Than Expected

Still from Instant Family [Credit: Paramount]

Family-friendly fare is hard to come by in terms of quality content, due to the fact that every story has pretty much been told. While Instant Family isn’t the most original film out there, it sure works very hard to win over audiences. I wasn’t looking forward to this one very much because the ads looked very formulaic and unfunny to me. Surprisingly, I can’t recommend this film enough. It’s very rare that I find a film that I had no interest in, that I end up nearly falling in love with. Sure, this is a breezy watch for families of all ages, but this is a very sweet story, told in a way that tugs at your heartstrings, while also remaining genuine and authentic from start to finish. This may be a studio trying to earn a quick buck with families, but if that’s the only negative, there’s no reason I can’t recommend this one to everyone.

Following Pete and Ellie as they decide to adopt a teenager, they quickly realize their lives are about to be flipped upside down, due to the fact that Lizzy (their adoption choice) comes with two younger siblings as well. Willing to take the risk, they adopt three children and their daily routines are forever changed. With great progression in terms of coming to terms with reality, this movie balances the perspectives of the children, as well as the adults, equally, which was a breath of fresh air. This movie never chose sides as to who was right or wrong in this story, but rather let the audience decide for themselves what they thought the right choices should be.

Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne lead this film and they actually have surprisingly great on-screen chemistry. Even though I believe they both sold their roles very well and seemed to be completely invested, I believe the standout performance came from the oldest daughter in Isabela Moner. Not having seen much of her in the past, I must admit I wasn’t expecting her performance to be as good as it was. She portrayed someone who would be in this position in such a believable and real way. Yes, the movie is slightly tame so that it’s accessible to everyone, but that’s not a negative towards this film at all. For the material she was given, I was emotionally invested from beginning to end.

Being directed by Sean Anders, I had very little faith that I’d like this film, because his work on Daddy’s Home, Horrible Bosses 2, and That’s My Boy was pretty less than stellar, at least in my opinion. Luckily, even directors who have had a streak of weak pictures can have a good day at the office and I believe he knocked this one out of the park. I had pretty much counted out ever hyping up one of his future films, but I’ll now be awaiting his next career choice. I usually find myself saying the opposite about filmmakers, but I honestly can’t express how much this film caught me by surprise.

Instant Family may not have been a film on your radar, but it should be. Filled with emotion, comedy in the right places, and an overall dramatic tone that I think many viewers will fall in love with, this film comes very highly recommended from me. Yes, it’s predictable and yes it doesn’t take many risks, but the execution of each storyline is extremely commendable. At its core, this film is an ad for adopting children, but it does such a great job telling this story that the ad feels like a worthy conclusion to the movie. I loved watching this movie. Instant Family deserves your attention. 

Rating: 4.5/5

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'Instant Family'—Movie Review
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