Instant Family

Directed by Sean Anders, Instant Family follows married couple Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) as they decide to foster three children (Isabela Moner’s Lizzy, Gustavo Quiroz’s Juan, and Julianna Gamiz’s Lita) – with the movie detailing the various complications that inevitably ensue. It’s an incredibly thin premise that’s clumsily (and infuriatingly) stretched out to fill an often interminable 118 minute (!) running time, as Anders, working from a script written with John Morris, delivers an eye-rollingly saccharine storyline that’s overrunning with misguided and deeply unfunny bits and set-pieces (including an ongoing gag involving a fellow foster parent’s desire to take in a Blind Side-esque budding athlete). The aggressively tedious atmosphere is compounded by a midsection that seems to consist solely of squabbling between Pete and Ellie and their newfound brood, while the complete and total lack of left turns within the narrative (ie this is about as paint-by-numbers as filmmaking gets) prevents one from working up an ounce of interest in or sympathy for the protagonists’ endeavors. The end result is a pandering (and ridiculously manipulative) trainwreck that’s consistently aiming for the absolute bottom of the barrel, which is a shame, ultimately, given the heartfelt nature of the picture’s subject matter (ie this could and should have been a compelling look at the difficulties and rewards that are part-and-parcel with a modern-day integrated family).

* out of ****


  1. This reviewer has no clue whatsoever — this is why we have so many terrible movies out there — because fools like this cannot recognize something worthwhile, deeply realistic and genuinely funny.
    The reviewer should find another line of work …..

  2. I strongly agree with Michael MacDonald above. I had no expectations going in to see this movie. My wife and I do not always agree on the movies we see. However, she and I were lock step in agreement that this was an excellent movie that caused us to laugh and cry. We were moved emotionally by the premise of the movie, the storyline and ultimately the outcome. The soundtrack was excellent as well. I do not know what movie this critic saw because it could not have been the same one we saw.

  3. I agree with the reviewer. A potentially great movie slid into mediocrity with too many bad gags. What’s with the stupid neighbor at the end of the movie being all creepy, for example. When Ellie got slapped hard for one of her many inappropriate comments, I said under my breath at the theatre, “Good!” The lead characters were a very unlikeable couple, rude to others, abrupt, jump to conclusions (attacking a high school boy without knowing who he really is), and so forth. The teen girl was a great character; the constant clumsiness of the middle child was overdone … we get it for the millionth time. The little girl was fine. The sappy grandmother (who played a younger sap in “Airplane” years ago) was simply awful and the Sharpie marking incident was terribly over the top. Are there any film editors out there saying, “NO, don’t do this!” Take out both grandmothers and the clumsy kid and I’m good. Make the parents a little less clueless and a lot nicer and we’re on the right track. I was actually pulling for the kids to get reunited with their mom and not get adopted into that awful family. (Yes, the soundtrack was good, that was a bonus.)

  4. This was not a simple, traditional, story. The goal of the movie is to take you on a journey. Some people felt it was “overstretched” and lacked originality. Though in some ways true, it is irrelevant. Life most often throws unoriginal obstacles in your path. You can see everything coming but you you cant do a damn thing to change it. All you can do is hold on for the ride, try to keep it together, and sort things out as they come. I have 7 children. They have had all kinds of problems, but not one problem was unique (well 1 of them was born with 24 fingers and toes…but I’m sure that has happened before). The true accomplishment of this movie was to take a very complex situation and express it in a way that feels true. This was not a documentary. They had to use “stock” characters in order to convey something so difficult in just 118 minutes. If you are not familiar with the use of stock characters, or have never dealt with any of these situations, then it would certainly feel unrealistic. As far as I’m concerned, it was a great movie. It kept my 3 year old son, 6 year old son, and 9 year old daughter glued to the screen the entire time. That is an impressive accomplishment for something that did not come from DC or Marvel. Good job Marky-Mark. You’ve come a long way.

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