Rating (3 out of 5)
It is nice to merrily trot off to the local cinema and have an expectation of a film, and the movie meets that expectation. Instant Family met my expectation of a simple but entertaining film that tells a good wholesome story.
Plot: A young couple, Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) decide to become foster parents and take in a teenager Lizzy (Isabela Moner) and her two siblings. The story is about how they all grew in their new relationship.
What I Liked: They fairly showed both sides of the foster care system. Instant Family provides a brief glimpse into bad foster parents who participate in the program for money. The film focuses the story on the well intentioned who want to help. The difficulty of foster parenting is on full display as are the emotional rewards. I knew a foster parent and admired him for the time and effort he spent to help a young foster child. I appreciated seeing the commitment those parents captured on the big screen.
The foster kids Pete and Ellie care for don’t have extreme emotional issues, the movie does discuss that many children have experiences prior to foster care that can challenge the parents, such as sex and drug abuse. I appreciated the story addressed the subject, but still kept the overall tone of the movie upbeat.
The mild humor is delivered in steady doses through out the two hours. Nothing is ever too over the top, which allows the movie to maintain its feel good tone. The two counselors Sharon (Tig Notaro) and Karen (Octavia Spencer) each had a different personality, and the two characters play off each other well, to create subtle humor each time they were on the screen.
What I Didn’t Like: There isn’t really a lot of surprises in this film, and the story line itself is very predictable. You get exactly what is in the trailers. There is a steady stream of humor however, the wit is more one chuckle humor or smirk rather than its so funny it makes your cry.
The stereotypes of the parents that are adopting border on the offensive. For example, there is a religious white couple (negative stereotype) and a gay couple (positive stereotype). They stereotypes weren’t necessary. The movie should have appreciated what each of the couples brings to foster care and that each person had their own motivation for being foster parents.
Conclusion: This is a clean wholesome film that the whole family can watch and enjoy. I wouldn’t rush out to the movie theater to see this but if it comes on to HBO or a streaming service it is definitely worth the time.