Instant Family
Altruistic Couple Adopts Three Siblings in Inspirational, Real- Life Drama

Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie Wagner (Rose Byrne) are speculators who make a living flipping real estate in their hometown of Atlanta. The couple’s latest acquisition is a fixer-upper with five bedrooms they hope to sell to Ellie’s sister Kim (Allyn Rachel) and brother-in-law Russ (Tom Segura).

However, Kim and Russ aren’t in the market for a house that needs so much work. Furthermore, they’re childless with no plans to start a family. So, they simply have no use for a place that large. 

Pete and Ellie don’t have kids either, but they have been seriously considering adoption. In fact, they’ve even been checking out photos of available orphans online.

Next thing you know, they’re visiting a foster care facility during an adoption fair run by administrators Karen (Octavia Spencer) and Sharon (Tig Notaro). While being escorted around the grounds, Pete hits it off with Lizzy (Isabela Moner), a headstrong, 15-year-old obviously in need of a father figure.

Trouble is, Lizzy has been serving as a surrogate mother to her little brother (Gustavo Quiroz) and sister (Julianna Gamiz), and she doesn’t want to be separated from her siblings. Do the Wagners have enough love in their hearts to adopt all three?

Of course they do, and the ensuing adjustment to parenthood is the sum and substance of Instant Family, an inspirational biopic co-written and directed by Sean Anders. The semi-autobiographical adventure is based on Anders own real-life experience.

To its credit, Instant Family does tackle a variety of serious themes ranging from drug abuse, to sexual abuse, to racial tolerance, even if the issues are generally resolved fairly easily. An uplifting adventure apt to lead to an uptick in applications for adoptions.

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, drug references and mature themes
Running time: 118 minutes
Production Studio: Closest to the Hole Productions
Studio: Paramount Pictures


Kam’s Kapsules
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening Nov. 30, 2018



The Possession of Hannah Grace (R for terror and gruesome images) Kirby Johnson plays the title character in this suspense thriller about a cop (Shay Mitchell) who has horrifying visions when she starts working the graveyard shift at a city morgue. With Stana Katic, Nick Thune and Grey Damon.



Anna and the Apocalypse (R for profanity, sexuality, violence and gore) Horror comedy about a teenager (Ella Hunt) who joins forces with her BFF (Malcolm Cumming) to fight the horde of zombies invading their hometown at Christmastime. With Sarah Swire, Ben Wiggins and Mark Benton.

Bathtubs over Broadway (PG-13 for brief profanity) Quirky documentary following comedy writer Steve Young on his quest to collect rare, industrial musical albums. Featuring Florence Henderson, David Letterman, Martin Short and Chita Rivera.

Head Full of Honey (PG-13 for profanity, mature themes and suggestive material) English language adaptation of Honig im Kopf, the 2014 German film about a young woman (Sophie Lane Nolte) who takes her grandfather suffering from Alzheimer’s (Nick Nolte) on a trip to Venice. With Emily Mortimer, Matt Dillon, Eric Roberts and Jacqueline Bisset.

The Man Who Mends Women (Unrated) Reverential biopic about Dr. Denis Mukwege Mukengere, the altruistic gynecologist who, for the past 20 years, has treated thousands of disfigured and traumatized rape victims of the Congo’s civil war. Narrated by Martin Spinhayer, and featuring commentary by Hillary Clinton.

Mirai (PG for scary images and mature themes) Animated fantasy about a 4-year-old boy (Haru Kuroki) who discovers a magical garden which enables him to time-travel to meet relatives from different eras. Voice cast includes Gen Hoshino, Koji Yakusho and Kumiko Aso. (In Japanese with subtitles.)

No Shade (Unrated) Romantic dramedy about a successful black photographer (Adele Oni) frustrated by the fact that the color of her skin is the only thing preventing the man of her dreams (Kadeem Pearse) from falling in love with her. With Sharea Samuels, Judith Jacob and Jade Asha.

People’s Republic of Desire (Unrated) Cultural exposé chronicling the evolution of China into a country where virtual reality and social media have become more important than real-life human relationships. (In Mandarin with subtitles.)

Sicilian Ghost Story (Unrated) Romantic fantasy about a 12-year-old girl (Julia Jedlikowska) who embarks on a search for the classmate (Gaetano Fernandez) she has a crush on after he mysteriously disappears in an enchanted forest. With Corinne Musallari, Andrea Falzone and Lorenzo Curcio. (In Italian with subtitles.)

Unstoppable (Unrated) Korean crime saga about a legendary gangster (Don Lee) who comes out of retirement to rescue his kidnapped wife (Ji-hyo Song) from the clutches of a ruthless mob syndicate. Cast includes Noo-Ri Bae, Min-jae Kim and Seong-oh Kim. (In Korean with subtitles.)