On the way home from the theater I remembered a time in my youth when I set before my mom’s recliner and she brushed my hair. It’s amazing how such a simple moment can provide a memory that lasts a lifetime. Instant Family makes us take a look at our childhood as well as how our loved ones have shaped us into the people we’ve become over the years. More importantly though it reminds us that our family, even if they are family that we have picked for ourselves, are always there for us through both the good and bad times in life.
Instant Family is about a couple Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne). Ellie purchases a five bedroom home under the assumption the couple will flip the home as they have multiple times before. Thanks to the purchase of the home the couple begin to discuss children and ultimately fostering a child. Little did they know when they go to the fostering event after the eight week course they would meet a teenager girl, Lizzie (Isabela Moner), and her two siblings, Lita (Julianna Gamiz) and Juan (Gustavo Quiroz), that would change their entire world for the better.
The film has the perfect combination of laughter and genuinely emotional moments that most of us either faced growing up or as parents of young children. We learn that the honey moon phase does not just exist within relationships, but in regard to having children as well. While the good moments ultimately outweigh the bad, raising children is not easy nor a Norman Rockwell painting. The beauty of the film is that we see how these parents take the good with the bad and how sometimes those moments morph into the other with ease. Instant Family does not attempt to hide the struggles or even thoughts that typically remain unspoken.
Instead, we learn about the effects of children in foster home. We learn that they never truly stop yearning for that re-connection date with their parents. They inherently refuse to give up on their biological parents and no one can blame them. In life we constantly find ourselves wanting the love and support of our parents. No harsher words were ever spoken growing up than a parent voicing, “I’m disappointed.” A child’s ultimate goal is to please their parents and make sure they attain their love even attaining such is not in their vested interest. That desire never goes away.
Thankfully though in situations where children need more than they are given people out there who step up. The film is a reminder that sometimes family is not biological. As Bobby Singer once said on Supernatural, “Family don’t end in blood.” Sometimes family are the people we meet throughout the years whom are merely friends at first but we call family in the end. Sometimes family are the people who pick us up when we least expect them too. And sometimes family picks up because they recognize the need there. They know that deep down that we need that assistance without us asking. Not just because they are in a system, but because once they enter our homes they are immediately loved and cared for in a way they need.
Byrne and Wahlberg shine as the parents who go from zero to sixty in three seconds. Watching them take on three kids immediately reminded me of when my cousin and his wife could adopt out of the foster system as well. That first Christmas was amazing to watch with their family despite knowing how tried they were by this huge difference and a huge undertaking. Much like in the film we witness how much work it truly takes to making sure kids getting them up in the morning to putting them to bed at night. Moner’s portrayal also tests the patience of Ellie and Pete in ways that have frustrated all parents who have a teenage child. After all, when we’re teenagers we make decisions and angst for angst’s sake lying within our souls for whatever reason. I also adored watching Lizzie’s younger siblings as well throughout the feature and the sensitivity and pickiness that often times come with younger children and how to deal with both.
Instant Family is not a perfect film by any means, but it’s an important film all the same. It’s a heartwarming venture that reminds us that no matter what people who care about us. In a world that is dominated by natural disasters and man made destruction Instant Family reminds us that some good in the world. People out there willing to do anything even when they doubt themselves. A push and pull in all families that Instant Family takes a moment to make us realize why it’s important merely to be together. No matter how our families are formed the film remind us that as a family we go through insanity together because we love each other throughout it all. Love always wins even in moments where we do not feel very loved at all.