Instant Family is an American comedy-drama about a couple who dive straight into the world of parenthood after they enter a foster home and leave with not one, but three children.
Hoping a child would fill a void in their marriage, Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) take in siblings Lizzie (Isabela Moner), Juan (Gustavo Quiroz), and Lita (Julianna Gamiz), who soon prove to be a handful.
The film’s title is rather deceiving because although Ellie and Pete do instantly become people with children (after they go through a highly testing period of foster parent training), they and the kids are far from becoming a harmonious family. And as the film progresses, it seems they may never be.
It is entertaining to watch the couple struggle with tantrum-throwing Lita and accident-prone Juan, but most poignant are the moments between the adults and the rebellious, fiery 15-year-old Lizzie. Moner brings just the right amount of toughness and vulnerability to the eldest sibling’s complex character.
While the film portrays many of the highs and lows families experience from a parent’s perspective, and spends a lot of time explaining the process of fostering a child, for the most part, it is just as relatable to younger audiences as it is to adults.
At times, the story may bounce from a heartfelt moment to a comedic one too quickly, and may also be a bit predictable, but whether it’s the honest acting, unfiltered script, or the fact that the film was inspired by director and co-writer Sean Anders’ own experiences as a foster parent of three, Instant Family rings true to life and doesn’t fail to draw tears - both happy and sad.
There are plenty of scenes to laugh at, but there is also a clear attempt to raise awareness to the plight of kids in the foster system and, though there was no attempt to sugarcoat the obstacles of parenting, there is an overall positive message about fostering.
This film contains strong language, sexual material and some references to drugs.