PHOTO CAPTION: Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne adopt a trio of foster kids in Instant Family, now available for streaming; the DVD and Blu Ray release date is March 5. (Courtesy Photo)

By Sidney Conway

Instant Family is the newest film directed by Sean Anders who has also directed major hit comedy films such as Daddy’s Home and its sequel , We’re The Millers, and Dumb and Dumber To. Anders is evidently a funny guy, but there is a whole other side to him that he expressed in his most recent movie.

Funny enough, this movie is based on a true story; whose true story one might ask? Well, this is the story of Sean Anderson and his wife taking in three children from foster care and eventually adopting them. Yep, you got that right: this heartwarming story really did take place in the director’s home (to some degree), which he then decided to put on a big screen.

Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne play the the role of dynamic duo Pete and Elinor Wagner, a house-flipping middle-aged couple who adopt a sibling group of three from foster care after a long conversation about having kids. The three siblings are played by Isabella Moner (Lizzy), Gustavo Quirozare (Juan), and Julianna Gamizin (Lita).  Initially, the couple only plans on taking in one child (Lizzy), but they soon find out that she comes with two siblings. After looking at their adorable pictures, they can’t say no. Fostering these children doesn’t come easily to the couple as they have to deal with many hardships along the way.

Vested in their careers as house flippers, Pete and Elinor Wagner don’t plan on ever having kids until one day a joke was made by Pete about adopting a 5-year-old and skipping all the nitty gritty business. Pete’s joke is later taken seriously by Elinor when she starts to get all emotional while looking at pictures of foster children who need families. One thing leads to the next and they soon find themselves taking a foster parenting course led by a pair of social workers played by Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro. The casting of Spencer and Notaro couldn’t be more perfect as they do a perfect job keeping the film lighthearted and funny while still bringing attention to many issues concerning foster care.

This film is not only heartwarming, funny, and well thought out, but it is also very educational. The film touches on many of the issues that both foster kids and foster parents struggle through. It references things like foster kids having to carry all of their life belongings in trash bags as well as the troubles that foster parents may face when taking in children. When the kids first come into the Wagner household, Juan (one of the children) empties a whole bag of stuffed bears into a bin. At first this seems like an innocent collection; however it is soon learned that he receives a stuffed bear every time he goes to family court. At first, the children are hard to deal with and control (especially Lizzy), as is the reality for many foster children, but the couple eventually learns how to deal with these issues as they work towards becoming a forever family.

Sean Anders does an exceptional job balancing the funny aspect of the movie with the serious and informative part. This movie will make you laugh and cry–and sometimes even at the same time. This is a ten-out-of-ten film and I would 100 percent recommend it to anyone who likes comedic, uplifting and heartwarming movies.