To celebrate the digital release of Instant Family, I thought I would write a brief review of it. As someone who has adopted from foster care, this movie is dear to my heart and is no doubt my favorite movie. Don’t just rent it, but buy it, and then lend it out to others.
The movie is about a married couple (played by Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne) with no kids who decides to adopt three siblings from foster care. The writer and director, Sean Anders, and his wife adopted three children from foster care, which is what inspired the movie. But rather than telling Anders’ story, the movie is a fictionalized and humorous amalgamation of experiences that are common for people who have adopted from foster care.
I absolutely loved this movie, and not just on principle. I love the fact that the movie is about adoption and it fairly accurately depicts real-life situations, but on top of that, it’s hilarious. I laughed constantly throughout the whole film. To be honest, I did laugh more than the others in the theatre. I’m guessing this is because the situations in the movie were so similar to what I’ve experienced. I suspect most adults will think it’s a good and funny movie, but those with shared experiences will enjoy it even more.
While the movie does occasionally exaggerate real-life situations for comedic purposes, it doesn’t do it as much or as often as you might think. Some of the situations depicted are really that extreme. I think watching this movie will be a good eye-opening experience for many people. It will give them a bit of an insider’s view of what it’s like to foster and adopt, but it does so in a way that is fun and won’t make anyone feel bad.
I really think this is a movie all adults, especially Christians, should watch. I think most people will truly enjoy it, but the movie also has the power to educate people about an unfortunate problem, and motivate them to be part of the solution.
Is it for kids?
Although this film as pegged as a family movie, it’s really not. It’s a very pro-family movie, but it’s not really for kids. There’s a lot of mature themes, crude language, and frankly, most kids will probably think it’s boring. The humor is definitely geared more towards adults than children.
I’m going to let me 11 year old watch it, but only because she is adopted, otherwise I’d wait a couple more years. I’ll probably wait a couple years before I let me let my 8 year old watch it. However, if you have adopted children, there are quite a few potential triggers in the movie you should be prepared for. For more on this, check the Adoption at the Movies Review.
Here’s a little more detail on what might not be appropriate for kids. There’s one scene where the 15-year old is sexting with a guy and the parents find out. Then, the next day, they go to her school to confront the person she was sending the photos to. The movie also has an f-bomb and uses other crude language somewhat frequently. For a more detailed analysis, check the Plugged In Review.
Another consideration is the general bad behavior of the foster children in the film that younger kids are likely to think is funny and mimic. They won’t grasp why the kids act that way so there isn’t much of a teaching point until the kids get older. I think it’s good that this is in the film because it’s realistic, but it’s also not a good example for younger children.