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This is the 3rd collaboration teaming up Wahlberg and writer/director Sean Anders following “Daddys Home” movies.

This movie (which is inspired by the real-life experiences of director and co-writer Sean Anders and his wife), Ellie and Pete (Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne), who live a Chip and Joanna Gaines-ian life as the owners of a house-flipping company, decide to foster-to-adopt a kid. They’re one of the rare families who not only are OK with taking in an older kid, but actually want one. They hit it off with 15-year-old Lizzy (Isabela Moner, in a performance that really captures the experience of a kid forced to live beyond her years), who is a package deal with two younger siblings.

Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro, who play caseworkers, drive home the difficulties for kids in the foster system and what their foster parents can expect. The frightening statistics on the prospects for kids who age out of the system without having found a permanent placement are clearly laid out (in real life, 20 percent immediately become homeless, less than 3 percent will earn a college degree by 26, and 70 percent of girls will become pregnant by 21). Ellie and Pete attend a support group where foster parents share how their kids have threatened them with violence. Lita, the youngest of the siblings, says some horrid things that you know she heard somewhere, and you know those things have been directed at her.

There are slumps and laughs and a moment when Ellie and Pete say just the right thing while Lizzy is crying. Plus you add in Byrne and Wahlberg who are notable comedic actors everything gels really well.

One thing nonfictional parents should be aware of: The movie touches on emotional, physical and sexual abuse, as well as addiction and substance abuse. It’s all handled well, but isn’t appropriate for young kids.

The laughs are sometimes silly, but often come as moments of relief following the family through hard times. The film makers do a great job bouncing back and forth from serious to comical, even having a cast member portraying a version of Sandra Bullock’s character from “The Blind Side” which they made several references about.

It’s not uncommon for comedy trailers to contain nearly every good joke in the actual movie, so when you get into the theater you find there’s nothing new to see. “Instant Family” is the opposite. Yes, you get what the trailer advertised. But you also get much more.


Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual material, language and some drug references


It’s the sexual material thats loud and somewhat graphic, quite a bit of talk regarding d1*k pics, and references to male genitalia, teenager is caught trying to send lewd pics to someone at school (nothing graphic is shown). Some talk regarding sexual abuse

Apart from the usual language fillings there is one loud F bomb used


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