What seems on paper like a bland cookie-cutter comedy about adoptive parenthood is not exactly what you get with Instant Family, a deeply flawed film that’s still hard to dismiss outright. Sean Anders’ semi-autobiographical effort wants to be a celebration of unconventional families and at times succeeds as a refreshingly honest counterpart to more formulaic Hallmark fare. Starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as a wholesome married couple who adopt a trio of Hispanic-American siblings, certain aspects of the film are commendable, in particular the way it addresses the ‘white saviour’ element central to the story and attempts to tackle thorny topics regarding parenthood. What a shame that its unquestionably good intentions and commitment to depicting the challenges of adoption are cack-handedly undercut by some increasingly sanctimonious preaching. It all comes to an über-earnest head with one of the most preposterously corny endings in recent memory, only made worse by a saccharine soundtrack that’ll make you yearn for earplugs. It ends up as a well-meaning mess, but a mess nonetheless.
Instant Family | Directed by Sean Anders (US, 2019), with Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne. Starts January 31.
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