Instant Family an Instant Favorite

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Instant Family Blu-ray

Yes, it's true. INSTANT FAMILY is, in fact, an instant classic. But don't let that lead you to believe it's an instant family classic. The film is rated PG-13 for a reason, and that's because the film is, above all else, brutally honest in its depiction of fostering and adoption, including the troubles of the children involved and the temporary recriminations of the parents who step up to the challenge.

When Pete and Ellie (MARK WAHLBERG, ROSE BYRNE), a pair of house-flippers, decide that they've waited too long to have biological children, they decide to go the adoption route. Surprisingly, and perhaps shockingly, the process is very much like shopping, complete with online browsing of available children and a visit to a fair-like event where potential parents can interact with the kids until they find one they click with.

It is at such an event that Pete and Ellie meet Lizzy (ISABELA MONER), a teenaged girl sitting apart from the rest of the group with other teenagers, because they're almost aged out of the system and have little hope of actually getting adopted. Seeing Lizzy as a "fixer upper" like any of their other projects, the couple go optimistically into fostering her, finding out along the way that she's a package deal -- she has two younger siblings, Juan (GUSTAVO QUIROZ) and LITA( JULIANNA GAMIZ). Juan is timid and uncoordinated, always getting hurt, always apologizing, and always fearful he's going to be punished. Lita eats nothing but potato chips and is verbally abusive to her dolls.

Throughout the proces, the would-be family has regular support interactions with their foster mentors, Karen (OCTAVIA SPENCER) and Sharon (TIG NOTARO), who tag-team as a sort of odd couple at odds with each other but always working together toward the same goals. MARGO MARTINDALE and JULIE HAGERTY join the cast as the grandmothers, who are supportive of the fostering decision, each in their own ways, as Pete and Ellie encounter the insurmountable challenges of dealing with three children who have put up some very stubborn defenses and survival mechanisms.

Ultimately, the movie reaches the point where the children's natural mother re-enters the picture, and Pete and Ellie learn the hard way that the goal of the entire process is to return children to their biological parents as soon as those parents prove they are capable of caring for them responsibly. Lizzy is manipulating things toward that end herself, but the question remains if her mother, now out of prison, is as fit as is being claimed.

INSTANT FAMILY has bouts of humor, drama, and all-around honesty. It is also peppered with situations and language, which puts the film in a unique and precarious position of being one that young children are going to think they want to see, and that -- prior to watching -- parents are going to assume is okay to watch. Your mileage may vary, but we recommend parents view this one alone first, and then decide whether or not their kids are ready to discuss some of the terminology and events that occur in this movie, including underage relationships.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0