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Film Review: “Instant Family” (2018) ★★★★★



© Paramount Pictures

As per the stats provided by the Children’s Rights, in 2016, more than 65,000 children whose mothers’ and fathers’ parental rights had been legally terminated, were waiting to be adopted. Some of those children are too little or teenagers. And what happens if the kids have already approached the age when the new family may not want to adopt them at all? That’s a sad reality of most children facing every day, the least I can tell. “Instant Family” written by Sean Anders and John Morris and directed by Sean Anders himself is a comedy-drama that not only touches upon but executes well one of the most important subject matters, turning it into one of the best family movies made in the recent history of cinema.

Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) are happily married. They have everything they need to have their every day fulfilled. However, there’s something missing in their life – a baby. As they begin discussing the possibility of having a child, the two come out with a whole different plan – to adopt a child. But when they find themselves fostering three of them, it becomes a bit problematic for them to deal with three problems at the same time. However, through those challenges, the family tries to navigate through the painful past of children, learn to deal with their issues while they themselves learn to become a parent – which, apparently, they had no idea how impossibly difficult that can be.

It was Lizzy (Isabela Moner) whose brave and even bold attitude grabbed Liz and Pete’s attention. But the adults had no idea that a fifteen years old foster child has two siblings, Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz). Karen (Octavia Spencer) and the funny Sharon (Tig Notaro) help Pete and Lizzie to make the right choice, however, even for them things like first-hand experience is a support they cannot provide to the soon-to-become parents, and as the time goes by it becomes obvious both Ellie and Pete have underestimated their capabilities of becoming parents.

“Instant Family” is not just a random family movie you will quickly forget once its over. This movie is real, talks about issues such as the importance of giving a chance to children that are not, if I can say it this way, in the most favorable age to be adopted. Not all the children coming from an abusive family should be treated as ones who might inherit bad habits from their parents, use drugs, or abuse alcohol. This movie gives a light approach to a heavy subject matter and tells in a beautiful way that there is no way you could remain indifferent throughout the movie.

It’s not good to take one child from his parents and give it to another. It’s a trauma and unnecessary pain that kids are put through and what we human beings should never allow happening. This is why having Isabela Moner’s Lizzy was important to understand why she would resist more than her much younger siblings that are not mature enough to realize that at some point of their life if they are taken away from their real parents, there will be no way back for them. For Lizzy, the pain of separation is real and vivid. She certainly does not want to stay away from her mother, as a result of it, causes trouble to Pete and Ellie who are already overwhelmed with the decision they made that appears to bring a heartbreaking result.

In the end, the true beauty of this movie is that it is based on the real-life experience of director Sean Anders who adopted three Hispanic children. That fact alone should inspire anyone not just to run and adopt more children, but to realize human kindness has no limits, and if we allow ourselves to look into the deeper issues of adoption and why slightly grown-up children should be given a second chance. Because whatever we do today will have an impact on them tomorrow. If we do good, it will be beneficial for them as well. But if we remain actionless, they will stay where they are with a future that won’t be too kind to them.

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