If you are a lover of dramedies and tearing up due to both laughter and heartfelt moments, “Instant Family” is absolutely a movie for you. The film follows a young couple’s heartwarming, comical journey of fostering three children. Played by Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne, Pete and Ellie Wagner had not been seriously thinking about having children until relatives pressured them into having the conversation that would soon change their lives. After semi-reluctantly attending a foster parents course led by two notably hilarious social workers (played by Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro), the couple attempted to find the child they would foster.
Much to their surprise, Pete and Ellie find interest in a teenager, Lizzy, and talk with the social workers about fostering her. There, they are stunned yet again when they learn that Lizzy has two younger siblings that would be taken in as well. Suddenly, Pete and Ellie, not expecting any children in their near future, found themselves fostering three children. The film exhibits the many ups and downs that come with fostering in a real, raw way that may tug at your heartstrings, but also in a way that is comical and relatable.
Though difficult to realistically depict every feature of the foster/adoption process, writer and director Sean Anders does address many aspects of the roller coaster ride that is fostering. He illustrates the good and bad, the celebrations and fears, and the wins and losses that are all involved in this complex process. Anders is very familiar with these emotions and this process as much of the movie is based on his own experiences of fostering—and eventually adopting—his three children. After realizing that this film was based on his personal story, there was an added dimension of pureness and passion that I didn’t know I wanted.
With an 82% score on Rotten Tomatoes and an audience score of 95%, there is no doubt that this film is worth seeing. Though the main critique being that the movie does not quite illustrate the intricacy of the foster/adoption process, it does accurately represent the powerful bond and unconditional love that the process celebrates; a painfully beautiful journey that is well worth it in the end. This well-written, thoughtfully-casted movie has the ability to make you laugh, cry, and want to immediately start fostering children (even as a college student). Though a PG-13 rating may appear adolescent to some, I believe the film’s humorous, heartfelt, and humbling content can tug the hearts of all ages.