Friday, June 9, 2023

Instant Family (2018)

Streaming Service: Paramount+
Movie Name/Year: Instant Family (2018)
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Family
Length:  1h 58min
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Paramount Pictures, Closest to the Hole Productions, Leverage Entertainment, Two Grown Men, Paramount Pictures International, Sony Pictures Releasing, United International Pictures (UIP), Universal Pictures International (UPI), Paramount Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures
Director: Sean Anders
Writers: Sean Anders, John Morris
Actors: Britt Rentschler, Carson Holmes, Charlie McDermott, Eve Harlow, Gustavo Escobar, Iliza Shlesinger, Isabela Merced, Joan Cusack, Julianna Gamiz, Julie Hagerty, Jody Thompson, Margo Martindale, Mark Wahlberg, Michael O'Keefe, Octavia Spencer, Rose Byrne, Tig Notaro, Tom Segura
IMDb Blurb: A couple find themselves in over their heads when they foster three children.

Cat’s Point of View:
Instant Family was one of those movies that looked fine in the trailer; but, as a story, it might have the potential to be heavier than I was feeling up for in the dramatic feels department. It didn’t make my personal Top 20 for November 2018 for that reason, and not based on the potential merit of the movie. 

Now that it came up in our random review rotation, I did my best to push aside any preconceived notions and even didn’t re-watch the trailer beforehand so I could experience the film with an open mind and fresh eyes. I am very glad I did. 

Instant Family didn’t shy away from the drama, though tempered the more intense elements of the story with comedy and lots of heart. The laughs were organic and woven into the tale deftly so that the production worked as a whole rather seamlessly. I’ve seen movies in the past that made clunky attempts at such but there was no hiding the segmented feeling. I didn’t find any such problems with Instant Family. It all had a natural flow about it. I didn’t even really note the passage of time all that much during my watch-through.

The foster and adoption system is one that doesn’t often get press, and generally when it does, it’s not good. There are so many kids out there that need good homes that can’t be the ones they started out with. In that way, Instant Family really hit an important topic and gave a positive feel-good story to go with it - without glossing over or sugarcoating anything. 

When I was in the 3rd grade, I got a front-row seat to some aspects of the lives of foster kids, as some of my family fostered often, and I stayed with them for a time and got to know the children that were around when I was. Instant Family hit on so many levels and had the benefit of authenticity, as well. I hadn’t realized it before, but writer and director Sean Anders (Horrible Bosses 2, Daddy's Home, Spirited) based Instant Family on aspects from his own life with fostering and adopting children. You could tell that this came from a place of deep understanding.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the outstanding cast. I couldn’t fault any of the performances within Instant Family whether they were Hollywood heavy hitters such as Mark Wahlberg (Deepwater Horizon, Spenser Confidential, Father Stu), Rose Byrne (I Am Mother, Jexi, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Shape of Water, Ma), and Tig Notaro (Lucy in the Sky, Army of the Dead, We Have a Ghost) or the up-and-coming child actors. Everyone was cast well and just felt right in their roles. Though, I do have to say my favorite was Isabela Merced (Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Sweet Girl), who played the oldest of the 3 primary kids in Instant Family, Lizzy. 

While there was a family theme throughout Instant Family and the word even within the movie’s title, as well as young kids featured in the film, this is not a movie for the very young. The PG-13 was a good rating here for the occasional language and some scenarios shown. 

Instant Family was definitely worth the watch, and I didn’t even mind the Paramount+ related ads. I have to be pretty invested in something for that not to be bothersome. If you’re looking for a heartwarming movie with laughs and just enough edge, this could be a good one to try.
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 81%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 83%
Metascore – 57%
Metacritic User Score – 7.3/10
IMDB Score – /10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer:

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