Review: Instant Family

Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne in Instant Family

Instant Family is a look at a real foster care story – one with a happy ending. It’s a comedy, but it looks clear-eyed at a situation that is anything but funny.

Instant Family stars Rose Byrne, and I’ve been on a bit of a Rose Byrne kick lately. She plays Ellie, who is married to Pete (Mark Wahlberg). They renovate and flip houses. Almost on a whim, they decide they want to be foster parents.

Tig Notaro and Octavia Spencer in Instant Family
The Sharon and Karen tag team

At the first foster parents orientation meeting they meet the welfare workers who will guide them through the process: Karen (Octavia Spencer) and Sharon (Tig Notaro). These two play off each other like Lucy and Desi. Lordy, why hasn’t Octavia Spencer been doing comedy all her life?

Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Gustavo Escobar, Isabela Merced, and Julianna Gamiz in Instant Family

Ellie and Pete end up with not one, not two, but three siblings. The oldest is smart-mouthed Lizzy (Isabela Moner AKA Isabela Merced). She’s been caring for her younger siblings for a long time. Juan (Gustavo Quiroz AKA Gustavo Escobar) is the world’s biggest klutz and causes all sorts of accidents. Lita (Julianna Gamiz) won’t eat anything except potato chips and has a 100 decibel scream when she doesn’t get what she wants.

It is way more than they expected or know how to cope with. It’s crazy, it’s chaotic, it’s hard as all get out.

Add in Grandma Sandy (Margo Martindale) and Grandma Jan (Julie Hagerty). Which one gets the grandma tee shirt?

About the time all these folks start to bond, the kids’ birth mother (Joselin Reyes) shows up. She’s out of jail, she’s clean. She wants to see the kids. It’s a mess.

As Ellie and Pete continue going to the support group meetings for foster parents, we see many other examples of foster families and how they are formed. They are all based on real stories.

Real foster families, dozens of them, are shown during the ending credits while Isabela Merced sings us out. That makes watching the ending credits require Kleenex.

Poster for Instant Family

Have a look at the trailer. You can watch this feel-good movie on Prime Video, Hulu and other streamers.

Have you watched this film about the foster care system? What did you think of it? Do you have any experience with foster care?

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