I was invited to attend a free screening of the new Paramount Pictures film, Instant Family. All opinions are 100% mine.
Instant Family tells the story of Ellie and Pete Wagner and their experience with the foster care and adoption system in the US. The film is based on a true story, and it is a sweet film about what a difference people can make in the lives of foster children. Is it a perfect film? No. Is it Instant Family ok for kids? Keep reading more for my Instant Family Movie review.
Instant Family Movie Review
When Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) decide to start a family, they stumble into the world of foster care adoption. They hope to take in one small child but when they meet three siblings, including a rebellious 15 year old girl (Isabela Moner), they find themselves speeding from zero to three kids overnight. Now, Pete and Ellie must hilariously try to learn the ropes of instant parenthood in the hopes of becoming a family.
Instant Family also stars the hilarious Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro as the social workers at the foster agency as well as Margo Martindale (luv huh) as “Grandma Sandy,” who steals all the scenes she is in for sure.
The Good of Instant Family
Now that you have a little plot and cast information, what’s good about this movie? A lot, actually. Because it is based on a true story, it’s not overtly cheesy. Sure, there are moments of over-the-top comedy and ridiculousness, but that’s to be expected. The real grounding elements of this film are the hard scenes. There is one particular scene where Pete and Ellie talk about how they want to give the foster kids back so their house will be clean and they can have a date night again. It’s refreshingly honest, and probably a real conversation a lot of foster and/or adoptive parents have in the early days of their experiences. I have not personally experienced fostering or adoption, but if it’s anything like my own child rearing, I definitely empathize with that sentiment!I also really like Mark Wahlberg in this movie. He usually plays a tough guy or a cop or something decidedly more “macho,” but seeing him in a “dad” role was quite sweet (and he has great comedic timing!)
The Bad of Instant Family
Next, let’s talk about the bad of my Instant Family review. The nature of the marketing of this film makes it seem like it would be a kid friendly movie. It’s actually not. It definitely earned its PG-13 rating. There was quite a bit of foul language throughout the film. I can usually overlook that, but there were a few well placed F-words that made me cringe. Just kind of unnecessary if you ask me. Additionally, while there were no risque scenes or nudity, there is talk of implied nudity and inappropriate texting of said nudity. While I get that that happens among teens today, and should 100% be a conversation parents are having in their families, it wouldn’t be appropriate for my seven year olds who have no idea what a “nude selfie” is yet.
Who Should See Instant Family?
So, if it’s not for kids, who is it for? It’s definitely not a rom-com, so if you’re on a date, you might want to choose something else. The topics and discussions covered throughout the film are deep. They are tough conversations for even married or committed couples. It might be awkward to talk about such deep topics on a date. My friend that attended the screening with me agreed. Couples in a committed relationship who have or are talking about starting a family could benefit from seeing this film. It’s real and relatable, and it has many good scene that promote conversation after its over.
Racial Diversity and the “White Savior” Complex
I asked my Instagram followers to let me know what they wanted to see in my review. I have several friends who have adopted children and/or foster children who are of a different ethnicity than they are. There were questions about the diversity of the film and the “white savior” complex that can sometimes affect how potential parents handle kids in the system. I was really pleased to see this movie address both of those issues almost right away. Octavia Spencer’s character says “Listen, kids in the system need parents, and there aren’t nearly enough parents for the kids that we have.” She basically told Pete and Ellie to stop worrying about their “complex” and worry about how they could help their kids instead. Again, another truth lodged in between the comedy that really resonated with me. Instant Family opens in theaters nationwide on November 16!