Sean Anders and his wife adopted children cross-culturally, undertaking a more difficult task than making audiences laugh with We are the Millers, She’s Out of My League, and the Daddy’s Home films. Thanks to the success he had writing and directing those other films, Paramount Pictures’ greenlit Anders’ more intimate project, Instant Family. Here, Anders told his story, and the stories of others who he came to know through fostering, in a hilarious fashion that will also infiltrate even the hardest hearts.
Pete and Ellie Wagner (Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne) are past the childbearing stage in their marriage, content to just be the two of them in work and at play. But external pressure gets their attention, and they decide to dive into the fostering process. Humorously, and excessively boldly, they move to take in a teenager (because they’re less likely to be adopted) and end up with three, Spanish-speaking siblings. It doesn’t go well. No, it goes terribly, and somehow, even when they are thisclose to giving up, they hold on. They discover unconditional, unexplainable, unrelenting love.
What audiences need to know is that the Wagners experience some extremely hard (and apparently typical) pitfalls of fostering like sexting, biological parent involvement, and more. The film doesn’t exactly make Ellie look like a winner (Wahlberg is clearly the “hero”), and the language is challenging for some. But it’s a film that fostered kids have said speaks to their experience, and fostering parents can attest to. And it’s one of the funniest films, from beginning to end, that I have ever seen. Ever.
For those who decide they love the film and want more, the special features are brimming over the top: Yes, there are deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, and a commentary, all pretty standard. You’ve got behind-the-scenes with the stars and the kids, and a look at counselors played by Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro. But the real-life families you’ll hear from, including from crew members ad the Anders family themselves, will shine a different light on a movie that isn’t just a film but a cause. Just for something a little extra – a crew member proposes in the other special feature!