Review by Anthony Lowery
Director: Sean Anders
DVD/Blu-ray release: 10 June
Inspired by writer-director Sean Anders’ personal journey, Instant Family is a headlong dive into the foster care system, complete with all the chaos and cries of ‘You’re not my real mum!’ that you might expect.
Property developers Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) are happily married and happily childless. But when the fixer-uppers embark on their newest project, a large house with a lot of bedrooms, they inadvertently arrive at the idea of filling it with foster children.
Jokey speculation rapidly results in taking the plunge and they adopt three Hispanic siblings: terrifying toddler, Lita (Julianna Gamiz), the hapless Juan (Gustavo Escobar) and live wire teen, Lizzy (Isabela Moner). What follows is an unsurprising but entertaining mash-up of inexperienced parents and battle-scarred kids, with an arrival of a biological mother just to stir things up.
Hand-picked by Wahlberg, Moner (Sicario 2, Transformers: The Last Knight) takes to Lizzy with subtlety and certainty, turning in the film’s standout performance (as well as its end credits earworm score, I’ll Stay). Amongst other standouts are adoption agency guides Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro, whose double act reels in a barrel of laughs - as does comedian Tom Segura’s bit part, Russ.
Heart-wrenching, heart-warming, and with well-placed comedy moments to relieve the emotional pressure, here’s a family movie about family that’ll leave you streaming with happy tears and wondering where those extra kids in your house came from.