Instant Family has a serious message to convey about foster care and adoptions. But it’s wrapped in a bubble of silliness that detracts somewhat from the movie’s core.
Mark Wahlberg discards his action-man persona for comedy, playing Pete, a normal guy whose wife, Ellie (Rose Byrne), persuades him to foster a ready-made family with the goal of eventually adopting them.
Byrne, injecting her character with the same amount of silliness, is delighted to be bringing into their subdued surroundings three Mexican siblings.
Lizzy (Isabela Moner), a rebellious 15-year-old, has severe issues and cannot knuckle down to the new lifestyle imposed upon them by Pete and Ellie.
An injury prone Juan (Gustavo Quizoz) and a tantrum-throwing Lita (Julianna Gamiz) make up the troubled threesome and it takes a strong will, and guidance from two amusing councillors, to get it right.
Karen, one of the councillors is played by an hilarious Octavia Spencer whose facial expressions alone are worth the price of a ticket.
This hapless family find themselves in some tight spots during the course of the movie, much of it requiring a mature adult touch, which is not always forthcoming. At times, though, you wonder who are the adults and who are the children.
Julie Hagerty plays one of the grandmothers, a clueless individual with a capacity for making matters worse, though she does manage to bring a modicum of comic relief to a tight situation.
Unconditional love and embracing family are topics that drive this family escapade, but Sean Anders’ direction allows it to become too messy and unfocused.
It may be light-hearted and breezy, but the comedy is too broad for my taste and the real message gets lost among the needless padding.
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Gustavo Quizoz, Julianna Gamiz, Olivia Spencer, Julie Hagerty
Director: Sean Anders
Classification: 13 LV