Instant Family 2018 ****

A strikingly confident, likable film from writer/director Sean Anders, Instant Family is a story about adoption that doesn’t sugar-coat the potential problems, even if the climax is as warm and fuzzy as you could ask for. High-flying house-flippers Ellie and Pete (Rose Byrne and Mark Wahlberg) decide to adopt, but end up getting three kids instead of one. The also go against the advice of experts (Tig Notaro and Olivia Spencer) by adopting a teen, but since the kids come as a set, what chance do they have? Anders has adopted himself, and it shows; the anecdotal evidence offered up here depicts child-rearing in messy glory, from domestic feuds and accidents, to instances where Pete and Ellie clearly overstep the mark (their pursuit of a potential sex-pest is particularly amusing). Isabella Moner makes a big impact as Lizzie, the oldest girl, and Byrne and Wahlberg manage to centre the story on their own relationship, and how a circle of trust and understanding was expanded from two to five. Instant Family has cause and purpose as a film; it’s a straight-up advert for adoption, and will likely touch heartstrings for some time to come.



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