Instant Family | Salt Lake City Weekly

Instant Family

Rated PG-13 119 minutes 2018

★★★★★ ★★★★★
Precious and rare is a heartstring-tugging comedy that manages to earn both its laughs and its emotion—but co-writer/director Sean Anders pulls from his own experience as a foster parent to deliver a genuinely satisfying surprise. Ellie (Rose Byrne) and Sam (Mark Wahlberg) are a childless couple heading into their 40s who somewhat impulsively decide to foster a trio of siblings: 15-year-old Lizzy (Isabela Moner), anxious Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and tantrum terror Lita (Julianna Gamiz). Anders pitches his humor at a tart-tongued sweet spot between his bawdy comedies like Sex Drive and adorable-kid smiles, and finds great moments for supporting cast members like Tig Notaro and Octavia Spencer (as the foster-parent agency case workers) and Margo Martindale (as Wahlberg’s mom). What takes it up a notch, though, is a recognition of the roller-coaster of successes and failures in this kind of non-traditional family, captured in simple moments like Ellie awkwardly adjusting how close to Lizzy it feels appropriate to sit. At 120 minutes, it threatens to wear out its welcome a touch; it’s also as honest and funny a public-service announcement for foster parenting as you could hope for.

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Sean Anders

Producer: Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Sean Anders, John Morris, Marc Evans and Helen Pollak

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Octavia Spencer, Isabela Moner, Tig Notaro, Gustavo Quiroz, Julianna Gamiz, Margo Martindale, Julie Hagerty, Michael O'Keefe, Tom Segura, Allyn Rachel, Brittney Rentschler, Jody Thompson, Joan Cusack, Gary Weeks, Joy Jacobson, Andrea Anders, Joselin Reyes and Iliza Shlesinger

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