Film review: Instant Family


Young newlyweds Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) decide to start a family and discover the world of foster care and adoption. With ambitions to adopt one young child, they manage to foster three siblings – rebellious 15-year-old girl (Isabela Moner) and her two younger siblings. Battling the challenges that come with parenthood, Pete and Ellie quickly realise that fostering was the best thing they ever did. 

Our Review:

I have a confession to make. If you asked me a question about the process of fostering or adopting a child I would respond with a blank face. After watching Instant Family, it suddenly dawned on me that this was a topic rarely touched on by the media. Based on the director and co-writer Sean Ander’s personal experience of adopting three children out of the foster care system, the film is much more than a light-hearted comedy. 

The story begins with Pete (Mark Wahlberg or Marky Mark) and Ellie (Rose Byrne), who spend their days flipping houses for a living. Ellie gives a tour of a recent property purchased for renovation to her sister and husband-in-law who quickly assume that the newlyweds would never have children. Then comes the look. The look that drives Ellie and Pete to the conclusion that there are too many children in the world without parents and decide to foster.

The couple investigate the opportunities to foster a child by attending fostering meetings, training classes and adoption picnics which are guided by the comic roles of Karen (Octavia Spencer) and Sharon (Tig Notaro). I must admit, at first this pair seemed extremely overcast, however when you are about to burst out crying their humour becomes a relief.

Instant Family highlights the need for more couples to foster or adopt teenagers, with a majority of carers entering the system in search of a young child. Ellie and Pete meet 15-year-old Lizzy and, instantly intrigued by the teenager’s first impression, the couple soon learn that fostering Lizzy also means fostering her little brother Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and sister Lita (Julianna Gamiz). So instead of dipping a toe in the parenting pool, Ellie and Pete drive into the deep end by fostering all three children.

Without giving away too much of the plot, Pete and Ellie come face to face with the reality of parenting. Most of the scenes are hilarious, however there are some very deep and overwhelming scenes which educate viewers about the fostering and adoption process. The film shines a light on the fact that not all children are given the perfect family, home and upbringing. Most importantly, it breaks down the assumptions made about children in the system.

As of 30 June 2017, there were 47,915 Australian children living in Out of Home Care (OOHC) . This has increased from 7.4 per 1000 children at 30 June 2011 to 8.7 per 1000 children at 30 June 2017. I know this because after watching the film I Googled it. I only hope that other views are inspired to do the same.

Fun Fact:

Young Hollywood actress, Isabela Moner, recently adopted a three-year-old dog from the Gold Coast Animal Welfare League Queensland shelter while filming her latest role as Dora in the new Dora the Explorer film. Isabela is now an Ambassador for the organisation.  Find out more. 

Final verdict: 4/5


Sean Anders.


Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne and Isabela Moner.

Film Rating:


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