I was privy to watching the latest Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne flick; ‘Instant Family’. Based upon a real story, the film follows the experiences of a classic American couple, living life to the full, but feeling that they are missing something. When Ellie (Byrne) decides that the couple need a new challenge, she sets out to persuade her husband Pete that foster care is the answer.
What follows is the heart-warming, extremely funny and at times the heart-breaking reality of foster care. We see how the older kids in the system are treated as simply waiting to be passed out of the system. We see how foster parents struggle to gain the trust of their new dependents. We see how tough it can be for kids to acclimatise to their new environments. But what’s more important is that we see a very human story, based around love and trust.
Whilst both Wahlberg and Byrne offer stellar performances, the stars of the show are undoubtedly the three kids that are fostered by them. Lizzy (15) is the tough teenager, used to having to care for her two younger siblings, hilariously accident prone Jaun and diddy diva Lita. All are capable of giving humorous performances, but perhaps most impressively, they are all able to add the emotional weight needed in some of the more touching scenes. Adding to the cast are Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro, acting as the support mechanism and extra comedy through their roles as foster care caseworkers.
The film uses real-life statistics during the parenting classes that Ellie and Pete attend, declaring that 50% of the kids that pass out of the system without long term foster care or adoption will end up in crime, substance abuse or death. This film isn’t just a piece of entertainment, it is trying to show the reality of foster care and encourage others to foster, proven by the message at the end of the film, giving you information on how to become foster parents yourself. This message is surrounded by real photos of real foster families, including the family the films are based on.
A brilliant film, with fantastic themes, released on February 14th it is a perfect fit for Valentine’s day. Go out and see it, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll come out feeling thankful for what you have, and who you surround yourself with.