By Laura BennettTuesday 8 Jan 2019Hope Afternoons
Diverse people gathering together around a common goal: it’s a sure-fire theme for a heartwarming film – and Instant Family is no exception.
This heartfelt new comedy about a family built around fostering and adoption, brings together some of our most quirky family stereotypes.
Inspired by writer-director Sean Anders’ experience with the foster care system, Instant Family follows Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) as they decide to take in three foster children, including a feisty teenager and her two younger siblings.
“No matter who you are, you can help create a family, and help children find a space to belong.”
The couple do an eight-week induction course to learn the ropes, testing their resolve and assumptions about fostering along the way.
Produced by Mark Wahlberg and written by the duo behind Daddy’s Home, Instant Family could be dismissed as a fluff film for the holidays, but deserves more interest than that.
As Pete and Ellie embark on their quest to become parents, a dutiful social worker informs them of the unfathomable strain on America’s foster care system. (At the time of writing, ChildrensRights.Org says there are 438,000 kids in care on any given day). Pretty quickly you realise Instant Family will have some laughs, but it’s also about a bigger, more serious issue.
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Are We ‘Special Enough’ to Adopt?
Pete and Ellie continually ask whether they’re “special enough” to adopt, looking at foster parents as saintly types they couldn’t measure up to. The main theme of the movie is that no matter who you are, you can help create a family, and help children find a space to belong.
While Pete and Ellie don’t know if they can build a good ‘forever family’, they’re compelled to embrace the process, and reject judgement from other parents.
Speaking with RELEVANT Magazine about Instant Family, Mark Wahlberg said, “In a time where families are being pulled apart, it’s nice to know that there are people out there that are helping people and trying to connect with people and inviting people [in] and making sure that they feel included in this big kind of extended family.”
Wahlberg believes after watching the movie, “people are going to be compelled to want to go out there and help children in need and think about bringing kids in the foster system into their home…There are a lot of kids that are out there in foster care that need loving, supportive parents.”
With some minor course language (hello ‘non-PC Pete’ and a teenager daughter), it should be said Instant Family isn’t totally sanitised for the kids – but there’s nothing worse than what they’ve heard in the supermarket.
Instant Family’s inclusion of a same-sex couple (although as secondary characters) could also be seen as somewhat political, but does reflect director Sean Anders’ real life experience and America’s current legal climate.
Instant Family is rated PG and in cinemas January 10.