Instant Family (2018): ‘Sean Anders’ Comedic Love Letter’ – A Film Review



Mark Whalberg and Rose Byrne star in this Comedy Drama about taking on the challenge of being foster parents. Based on the director Sean Anders experiences fostering children but with a comedic spin, Instant Family manages to carry with it a unique take on family stories. Sean Anders isn’t a stranger to these kinds of films and his personal involvement in the film casts spells of excitement and intrigue. The concept certainly has its potential. Commenting on family and parenthood, whilst having the comedy of situations, character struggles or even the characters personalities themselves. Combining perception with reality, there is a lot that the film can play with whilst still remaining true to the heart of the story, but it is a juggling act.


A Matter of Tone

So, managing that tone from comedy to drama can be quite difficult, Instant Family tries to remain grounded and this works in the films favour – for the most part. There are some occasions where the stereotypes work for being token characters but are also effective for that comedic representation of reality. There are also some moments where reality is romanticised sometimes beyond where it needs to be. This can be a little jarring for a film that is mainly realistic, but never too much. SPOILERS: Mainly the end or even the forced cameo. END OF SPOILERS. Despite this, the tone works very well, from the characters commenting on situations in a comedic fashion, but being realistic enough for the drama to take hold and to even be heart-warming at times.


The Performances as Character

This is heavily boosted by the performances of the characters. The chemistry between the stars, Mark Whalberg and Rose Byrne, is wonderfully effective and with an authentic closeness, for their struggles to be relatable even when they’re not. Surprisingly enough the child actors are just as, if not more so, amazingly pulled off. This is a really effective point for Instant Family, as a film like this could have easily been hampered with the child actors. Instead Instant Family makes this one of the film’s strengths. This is incredibly important for drama, as well as comedy, and also striking that balance. Thankfully, they’re able to make it count so that they’re not caricatures and they’re not serious drama queens either. Perfectly setting the tone of Instant Family, with only the rest to keep up.


Instant Family may not be the film to be on many people’s ‘excited to see in 2019’ – or in fact 2018 – but it works. It manages to tell a tale true to life, funny and heart-warming, in spite of its troubles. There are moments where it is confused, not all the jokes work and not all the scenes add up – but they’re few and far between. Instant Family excels at showing us the funny side of an emotionally tugging real scenario. One that the director obviously had his all in to. No matter the struggles, family and those relationships can really make a difference, despite being tough, testing and never straightforward.



A well off couple take on the new challenge of fostering three children.




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Instant Family (d. Sean Anders USA 2018)


Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with Sean Anders

Interview with the Cast

Interview with Mark Wahlberg

Behind the Scenes

True Family Featurette



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This was an analytical review of….


Instant Family (d. Sean Anders USA 2018)

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