Somewhat based on the experiences of director and co-writer Sean Anders (both Daddy’s Home and its sequel), Instant Family stars Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as a childless couple of house flippers who decide to adopt three siblings. When Pete and Ellie Wagner meet self-possessed teen Lizzy (Isabela Moner, Transformers: The Last Knight), at a foster kid meet-and-greet, the couple decides to adopt her and her two younger siblings, Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz).
Understandably, adopting one kid is tough enough, much less three, and a teenager to boot. For the Wagners, the struggle is real, especially when the kids’ birth mom gets out of jail and seeks custody. Instant Family gets all the laughs it can out of the considerable comic charms of Wahlberg, who weirdly resembles Ike Barinholtz—sounds like the germ of a new brothers-out-of-water comedy—and Byrne, who keeps getting funnier. Its humor is edgy enough to offset the schmaltz, and very particular, if divergent, fun is provided by the support of Tig Notaro and Margo Martindale.
Everything sorts out too cleanly and easily to genuinely examine the adoption process, but Instant Family makes for a charming ad for the foster care system. I dare you not to tear up at the sweet family photos that accompany the credits.
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