Inspired by the director’s personal experience, Instant Family tells the story of married couple Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) on their journey to foster a child. Under the guidance of two social workers, Karen (Octavia Spencer) and Sharon (Tig Notaro) the couple, along with a group of other hopeful parents prepare to adopt a child. At a “foster fair” Pete and Ellie meet Lizzy (Isabela Moner) who is 15 years old and unlikely to be adopted as she is a teenager. After making an impression on the couple, Ellie and Pete ask the social workers about this teenager. It comes to their knowledge that Lizzy comes with two younger siblings, Juan (Gustavo Escobar) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz) and know Pete and Ellie find themselves fostering three children rather than just Lizzy.
In this comedy-drama we go on a journey with Ellie and Pete which covers everything from coming to the decision to foster to finalising the adoption – and all the tears and tantrums in-between. Though parts are comical the main message is honest and heartfelt on both sides. Ellie and Pete are both shown to be good people; however, they are not without flaws and that is shown as well. Equally the children behave in a way that is understandably bad but at the same time terrible behaviour from children that have not known stability. Lizzy the eldest child has the complication of wanting hr sibling’s happiness but also desperately wanting to be reunited with her real mother. The film shows that true devotion comes from making an effort despite the lack of appreciation Pete and Ellie often receive for their efforts. The kids aren’t bad for not warming up immediately, with Lizzy having the most trouble as she wishes to be reunited with her birth mother who was declared unfit to care for them.
Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne both give a performance that balances the comedic and serious elements of their roles throughout the movie. Being able to capture the heartfelt themes and messages of the film while capturing the personal struggle of their characters in connecting with the children. Equally, the supporting cast is very strong with actresses Margo Martindale and Julie Hagerty playing grandmothers that are both very different from one another but believable. As well as Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro in the wings to guide the couple on their journey. Overall, I found this film to be an earnest attempt at telling a poignant story and would recommend to anyone wanting to watch a feel-good film.