Instant Family is a 2018 American comedy drama film starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as parents who adopt three young children, played by Isabela Moner, Gustavo Escobar (Gustavo Quiroz), and Julianna Gamiz. The film opened in cinemas on November 16, 2018.
When Pete and Ellie decide to start a family, they stumble into the world of foster care adoption. They hope to take in one small child, but when they meet three siblings, including a rebellious fifteen-year-old girl, they find themselves speeding from zero to three kids overnight. Now, Pete and Ellie must try to learn the ropes of instant parenthood in the hope of becoming a family.
- It is pretty much a generic family comedy film where two parents struggle with three annoying children. It also follows through many clichés, such as the "our main characters bond with someone that isn't theirs" cliché.
- There are several problems with the characters:
- Pete and Ellie Wagner are pretty bad parents, as they do barely anything when their children behave horribly, except at one point where they punished Lizzy for breaking her curfew. This can be excused, since they never had any real experience with parenting, but yet they decide to get three kids instead of one, which just pours salt on the open wound.
- The foster children are not all that better:
- Jaun Wagner, the only son, is constantly scared over... the dumbest things, and continuously says "I'm sorry" whenever he messes up, which gets annoying real fast.
- Lita Wagner, the youngest, screams, call other people names, and would not shut up whenever she does not get her way, and almost had her new foster home be set on fire... all because she wanted potato chips.
- Lizzy Wagner, the oldest, is a stereotypical "teen valley girl," and she is rude to everyone aside from her siblings and friends, going as far as to hate them to the point where she almost separated herself and her siblings to go back to their real mother.
- The other supporting characters, particularly Sandy Wagner, do absolutely nothing to progress the plot and serve as filler.
- This film lacks an overall plot, a problem shared with a majority of Sean Anders' movies.
- The emotional moments feel mostly forced and are absolutely ridiculous.
- For instance, the very first "emotional" moment is when Juan drops a stapler on his foot, and ends up in the hospital. This would make sense, but Juan didn't even have the stapler, nor did he pick it up, and plus, why did he even drop it in the first place? And even then, dropping it wouldn't make the stapler function, anyway.
- When Lizzy finds out that her birth mother is still smoking weed, she runs to Sandy's house and hides in the gate where the air conditioning units are at, despite the gate being taller than her, but comes out convinced that her foster parents will take care of her the best they can simply because they are aware that she hates cheese.
- This movie tries to portray foster parenting in an honest light, but it doesn't work that well.
- Not helping is that this film also has a website that tells audiences all about adoption and how you can "open your heart and home for a waiting child." It also talks about all the great stuff about fostering and adoption, which is extremely hypocritical and nothing but filled with lies. As said before, the foster kids are horrible, mean, and cruel to the point where the message of foster parenting can get a bit muddled.
- Some elements can give off a bit of a bad taste. The characters would not only be one of the examples, but even some scenes such as the "child abuse" scene where the parents beat up the victim, who is called Jacob, for "abusing Lizzy."
- The ending does not make any sense, as the parents finally adopt the children... simply because Lizzy hates cheese, while the judge plays unfitting music and declares a family photo, and everyone in the courtroom gets together, even though they aren't part of this family.
- Obvious product placement for Six Flags.
- The acting is pretty solid and the cast does the best they can with the poor script.
- There are some heartwarming moments.
- Pete and Ellie are likable characters, albeit to an extent, although they are pretty bad parents.
- Some of the jokes can get a good chuckle.
- Despite the message being a bit messy, the portrayal of the hardships of foster parenting is actually pretty spot-on.
- October, a minor character portrayed by Iliza Schlesinger who is a single woman in her 30s looking to adopt a teenager and turn him into a sports superstar, is admittedly pretty funny.
The film holds an approval rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 142 reviews and an average rating of 6.56/10. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 57 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".