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Instant Family film review

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

You’ll need to bring a box of tissues to this film, not just for tears of sadness but for tears of laughter and pure joy.

This film is based on the life events of movie director, Sean Anders. Anders also directed comedies such as Daddy’s Home and Horrible Bosses. So I didn’t expect anything other than to spend the next two hours laughing. I also had a total fangirl moment when I learned the actress who plays the oldest foster daughter, Lizzie is from Cleveland, Ohio. My hometown!

Instant Family starts off with a look into the seemingly normal but perhaps incomplete in some way, lives of couple Pete and Ellie Wagner, played by Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne. The Wagner’s live typical lives in a typical suburban area with a dog, of course, and have put child rearing on hold while launching their own home remodel company.

After Pete makes a joke about being too old to have a baby and adopting a teenager instead, Ellie begins to seriously contemplate adopting a child. With bios of foster children literally floating around Pete’s head, they decide to take the plunge.

After surviving the adoption fair and a run-in with teenager, Lizzie, the Wagner’s find themselves not only with Lizzie, a teen with an attitude, but Juan, who’s very sensitive to say the least, and Lita who is a typical five-year old with some added sass.  

Almost ironically, Pete and Ellie spend time “child-proofing” their house but are nowhere near prepared for what these kiddos will bring. From tantrums to sexting, parenting is not what they expected. But after five months of adjusting, we finally get a sense that everything is coming together. Lizzie seems to hate Ellie a little less, Lita has stopped demanding potato chips for every meal and Juan… well Juan is just Juan. But you really think everything will be alright. Until it isn’t.

The not so hidden message

Behind the comedy of being new parents, this film sheds some light on the whole adoption process and the stereotypes involved. The foster system is not just filled with children whose parents are deceased, but who lost their parents due to drugs, abuse and neglect. The system is filled with children of all ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds, thus doing away with any stereotypes one may of foster care.   

Instant Family shows the trials and tribulations that new foster parents face while forging new bonds with their children. But most importantly, it shows how beautiful it is when new families come together.  

So, grab the family and make sure to check out this film in UK cinemas from Thursday 14th February.