Parents' Guide to

Instant Family

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Heartwarming family dramedy has some mature moments.

Movie PG-13 2018 119 minutes
Instant Family Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 82 parent reviews

age 16+

Great movie for older teens+

As an adult I really enjoyed this movie and have watched it multiple times. But the first review I read on here is the perfect example of why this isn’t for younger teens or below. I found it very emotive because it depicts the trauma some children without an intact family go through, a young teen who has not been exposed to that wouldn’t understand the behaviour of the children in the film. Great movie for when the kids have gone to bed.

This title has:

Great messages
1 person found this helpful.
age 5+

people are soft on here

people on here are soft, besides the movie saying one swear word “f**” the movie is amazing and really gets people thinking about kids in foster system. i think any child can watch this because it shows just how different other kids lives on. it specifically talks on how the mother is a drug addict and the kids are in the foster system. it’s an amazing movie that is based on a true story, if you’re soft don’t watch it then.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (82 ):
Kids say (116 ):

This dramedy offers heartfelt moments and touching details likely drawn from writer-director Sean Anders' actual experiences of fostering three siblings with his wife. This kind of story could easily veer into schmaltz, but Instant Family admirably avoids most of that. It comes off as authentically earnest, with some light touches and effective performances. Some moments are clearly exaggerated for comic effect, but generally speaking, the film feels rooted in reality (though some might say the foster care system comes off a bit too rosy). Everyday pitfalls like getting the kids to eat and dress properly throw off the couple's once-tidy existence. Much larger, more serious issues -- such as the re-emergence of the kids' birth mother -- also come up to complicate the budding family's existence.

Playing Lizzy, young Moner is impressive; she's intelligent and emotionally available. Spencer gets the lion's share of the laughs and delivers as the unfiltered half of a comic team with Notaro. Byrne and Wahlberg are, as always, appealing presences, each finding moments to shine and reveal the depth of their emotion toward the kids. Instant Family is ultimately a life-affirming testament to the strength of the families we choose.

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