Instant Family Review

Instant Family
  • Directing8
  • Writing8
  • Acting8
Overall8.0

Instant Family is an instant success. Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne deliver sincere and enjoyable performances, while director Sean Anders captures the subject matter with an even dose of well-blended comedy and drama. This is an all-around great family film.


I never thought I’d be crediting Daddy’s Home and Horrible Bosses 2 director Sean Anders for being able to craft such a well-made family film. Instant Family blends together the real-world look at adoption and foster families with Hollywood mechanics, which actually work in its favor. Instant Family isn’t a full-fledged drama, nor is it a cheap comedy; it instead blends together the two genres in way that makes for a touching, yet enjoyable film for the entire family.

Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) are a married couple that owns their own successful fixer upper home company. They live in a beautiful house and have the freedom to do whatever they want whenever they want. But something is missing.

After some thought and discussion, the two decide that what they are missing and what they want most in the world, is to adopt a child and raise it as their own. They know the rocky road ahead of them, no thanks to the general negative stigma surrounding adopting a child or becoming a foster parent in general, but they don’t care, because they’re good people.

They sign up for a foster class and the next thing they know — they’re adopting three children, including one mouthy teenager.

Almost immediately, they start second-guessing their decision as they start to realize that becoming a parent is tough work and not something you can just instantly become good at. 

Instant Family approaches the material of fostering children in a manner that feels sincere and authentic. It addresses the unknowns and knowns through education and first-hand experience, which makes for a film that’s both funny and moving.

Sean Anders is no stranger to comedy. He’s written some good ones, including She’s Out of My League and Sex Drive, while also co-writing and directing some awful ones, like Horrible Bosses 2 and both Daddy’s Home films. I will admit that when I saw his name attached as a director, along with his frequent co-writer John Morris, I assumed that Instant Family was going to play out more like Daddy’s Home than anything else.

For those of you unfamiliar, Daddy’s Home is a shallow, over-the-top holiday film that best highlights Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell‘s ability to be complete idiots. 

Instant Family on the other hand, portrays Mark Wahlberg as a flawed, but passionate and excited soon-to-be-dad. Wahlberg injects his typical charm and weirdly comedic tendencies, but he never becomes a full-fledged moron.

Rose Byrne anchors down the film with an equally impressive performance that also shows her range as an actress unafraid to tackle comedy and drama without batting an eye. We’ve see her go full-on crazy in Spy or more-likable, but still kind of clueless in the Neighbors films.

Together, Wahlberg and Byrne give us a couple that’s completely unprepared for parenthood, yet their intentions are good and their hearts are open.

Watching them tackle the ups and downs of adoption is a first-class ticket to watching life unfold in front of you. Anders and Morris drop in just enough humor to keep you smiling, while never pushing the drama too far into the tears category.

I would have never expected to walk out of Instant Family moved by what I saw on the screen. It made me laugh, it made me (almost) cry and most of all, it put a big smile on my face. It’s the type of feel good movie that most critics will tear apart, but I couldn’t resist its charm. The kids are adorable, the parents are a hilarious mess and the whole movie knows when to shift tones without second guessing.

Instant Family might look like another sappy holiday movie to write off completely, but I urge you to give it a chance, because there’s more to the film than the trailers reveal. Yes, those comedy bits are in the film and boy do they land, but there’s also a dramatic side of the film that elevates what could have been another Daddy’s Home to a film that’s about so much more than a cheap joke or last minute dose of holiday cheer. 


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