‘Instant Family’ brings laughter to the holidays

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Hira Baig and Yuzuki Okuda

Rarely is the adoption process given the spotlight in movies and in Hollywood, and Instant Family aims to change that by depicting the overloaded foster care system but at the same time, works to alter the perception that many people may have about adopting children. It communicates that even if not related, loving each other can build relationships stronger than blood.   

Instant Family, a film directed by Sean Anders, begins when an ordinary married couple, Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne), decide to foster a child, hoping for a sweet little kid but unexpectedly end up taking in three children at once. Including a rebellious fifteen year old high schooler (Isabela Moner) and two of her siblings (Gustavo Quiroz and Julianna Gamiz), resulting in chaos. The movie follows the path of building a family relationship, the importance of trust and communication, and provides the audience with a new insight on the realities of adoption. Even though it lacked personal connections with the audience, this movie conveys the warmth of family and will provide a nice laugh for the holidays.

A winning factor for Instant Family is the heartwarming charm and amiable atmosphere present  through the developing familial bonds and ties. The parents’ struggle to get their new children to open up to them, and the strategies that they come up with helped build a lighthearted atmosphere. It was a lot funnier than what most people anticipated, especially considering that the plot didn’t seem all that unique.

An interesting thing about this movie is that it’s based on a true story of actual foster children. Sean Anders, the director of the movie, stated that the movie was largely influenced by his and his wife’s real experiences adopting foster children. Many of the jokes are influenced by his real-life events and it gives the movie an even more heartwarming feel because not everything is made up.

Even though Instant Family provided us with humor and tears most of the time, there was a detachment between the audience and the characters of the movie and the audience was kept at a third person stand point throughout the movie. In the instant when they opened up to each other, it was predictable, and even though sweet, there was the constant feeling of “watching it in the theater.”” There was never a point where the film delved deep into the emotion of the character, and lacked empathy for the characters. Rather than experiencing the whole journey with the family, it was just watching them go through it.

The movie takes on the challenge of showing adoption parents in a new light, and paints a comedic, and at times even frustrating view of adoption culture. It takes a closer look at the process and reduces the stigma associated with foster care and the view that foster care is “babysitting other people’s kids.” When Ellie and Pete introduce the idea to their family, they get some not-so-reassuring responses about things such as “crack babies” and a family having to be “their own blood.” The movie then addresses these complex issues such as family identity, and sometimes even racial issues associated with the system.

Overall, Instant Family came as a surprise towards the end of 2018, and even though it lacked a strong emotional connection to the film, it definitely reminds people how valuable strong relationships can be.