Instant Family

Instant Family

Director: Sean Anders

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner, Tom Segura

Release Date: November 16, 2018


This holiday movie season has given us something for the whole family, from the heartwarming story of an unlikely friendship in Green Book to the always reliable Rocky franchise giving old and new audience members something to like in Creed II. Add Instant Family to that list of options to take grandma and the kids to see this holiday season.

Instant Family is the story of a married couple who adopts three kids and goes from empty nest to a very full house overnight. The couple Pete and Ellie (played by Wahlberg and Byrne) go through their ups and downs while trying to figure out how to parent three kids ranging from age 6 to 16. Parents will relate to Pete and Ellie’s frustrations as we see them deal with the irrational behavior of a 6-year-old who refuses to eat anything other than her favorite food (potato chips) to the difficulty of disciplining a 16-year-old for skipping out on the family’s trip to Six Flags.

Their most difficult challenge is relating to and getting along with their oldest daughter Lizzie (Isabela Moner). Lizzie has spent most of her life in foster care, bounced from house to house and we get a firsthand look at how that affects her willingness to trust Pete and Ellie, as she believes they will leave her like so many others before them. Lizzie is also old enough to have fond memories of her birth mother and is holding out hope that they will be reunited, which also makes it difficult for her to accept Pete and Ellie as her new parents.


The story is based on director Sean Anders’ own life as he adopted three kids of his own. With his own experiences he is able to show the audience how difficult the growing pains can be for both the overnight parents and the kids who all the sudden are living in a stranger’s house. Anders does an excellent job of balancing drama and comedy so that one theme doesn’t overshadow the other. He is able to depict the challenging and rewarding experience in a way that only someone who has done it himself could.

What makes Instant Family memorable are the moments that will make you cry,  the moments that are so moving they make you want to adopt your own instant family, and the heartbreaking situations that foster kids are put through every day.

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