By: Zoha Khan
Instant Family is a heart-warming tale centered around the joys and struggles of starting a new family. Arguably one of director Sean Anders best works (best known for lackluster films like Horrible Bosses, Sex Drive, and the Daddy’s Home films) it possesses the rare ability to transcend viewers from hysterical laughter to tears of sorrow in mere minutes.
Though some of the scenarios are admittedly far-fetched, they are balanced by the most normal of actions such as mother-daughter squabbles and family water fights.
The audience is welcomed into the movie by an open door and from that moment on you are hooked.
There is a very natural and relatable chemistry between Academy Award nominee Mark Wahlberg who assumes the role of Pete Wagner and his wife Eleanor “Ellie” Wagner brought to life by Rose Bryne.
The two appear to the perfect all-American couple; blissfully married and self-made after years of hard work.
However, in the opening scene, it is apparent that there is a hole in their lives.
‘A look’ is all it takes for the couple to realise that they, in fact, yearn the blessing of a child.
An innocent joke about adopting a five-year-old just so it looks like they had a child when they were young leads to a unique domino of events.
This scene is a replica of a conversation had by Anders and his wife prior to the adoption of their own three children.
This segment of the film is the one with the most emotional resonance and heft.
Anders is bravely letting the audience into his personal life and drew from his own experiences which he continues to do throughout the production.
When deciding on whether they truly want to proceed with the adoption, the camera zooms in and focuses only the two protagonists in an attempt to represent the weight of their decision.
Besides this one flourish, the cinematography is rather mundane at best.
Brett Pawlak is the cinemotgapher on this film, and considering his previous work includes the diabolical Zac Efron EDM “movie” We Are Your Friends and Life Itself, easily one of 2018’s worst films, it may appear to the trained eye that he is perhaps the weak link in all these films.
There was the odd use of symbolism here and there such as a bright and airy ambiance when the lead couple felt happy or excited and a dark lighting or rain when things looked bleak.
Although these relayed the intended message, a bit more of imagination wouldn’t have gone amiss.
The biggest takeaway from the film is how it tackles genuine issues – it’s certainly smarter than your average studio family comedy.
It educated the public about the horrors witnessed by many foster children while breaking down the stigma that they are some form of ‘freak children.’
It showcased the struggle couples, both straight and gay, face when they are unable to conceive naturally.
Most importantly, in another scene drawing on the director’s personal experience, it highlights the hardships of being a foster parent and that at times all you want to do is turn the clock back, but your love for your children holds you back.
These somewhat dark themes are countered by the film’s various styles of comedy.
Ranging from hysterical accidents to witty comments, Instant Family succeeded in cracking up the entire cinema on numerous occasions.
Young actress Julianna Gamiz who plays Lita, the youngest of the foster trio is the scene-stealer.
Gamiz gives an adorably hilarious performance where you were partly smiling because of her cuteness while wiping tears off your cheek because of her spectacular dialogue delivery and facial expressions.
In simple words, this humane tale of awkward first encounters and the tested relationships is universally translatable.
Those of you who are fans of comedic yet heart-warming family-friendly movies, this is definitely worth a watch.