Movie Review for Parents:

Instant Family

Years ago, when we were a family of five, I had just had a miscarriage, and I asked my three children if they would consider our family being a foster family. All three of them said, “NO.” Some people might think that my children didn’t want to share me with other kids, but the real reason they gave was that I wouldn’t be able to give children back. In the latest comedy, Instant Family, starring Mark Wahlberg we see foster parents placed in that very scenario. In my Movie Review for Parents: Instant Family, I give you the information to help you determine if your children are ready to deal with the subject matter and content.

When my family talked about fostering, my children said that I would be the crazy lady who runs to Canada instead of letting the children go back to a potentially dangerous household. In fact, I think my children understood me and my heart much better than I did. After watching Instant Family my heart felt heavy thinking of the thousands of children that don’t have a forever family. 



Instant Family is a comedy based on a true story. But apparently the definition of comedy to Instant Family is different than mine because this movie was not your ordinary relax and laugh movie. It was so much more.

While there are definitely funny elements, there are also serious heart wrenching conversations. And the casting is spot-on for those conversations. Mark Wahlberg plays Pete who is married to Ellie (Rose Byrne). Business partners and golf partners, this couple appears to have it all, but they do not have children. While Ellie and Pete begin to wonder if they should have had children, Pete’s childhood trauma is stopping him from becoming an older dad. After attending an adoption open house, the couple meets Lizzy (Isabela Moner), a 15 year old spunky girl. It is only after expressing interest in her that they find out she has two younger siblings. 

The rest of the cast is excellent too. The interaction between the adoption agency case workers, Karen (Octavia Spencer) and Sharon (Tig Notaro), will have you hoping they appear in other movies together. 


This comedy is a rollercoaster movie. You will be laughing and smiling one minute and sobbing the next. I loved the character development, the interaction on screen, the “real life” dialogue that makes you certain that the writers understood what they were talking about. These conversations were written by people who lived these situations.



My Movie Review for Parents: Instant Family would not be complete without letting you in on the components of this movie that your child may not be ready to see. This movie received a PG-13 rating for the following: Thematic elements, sexual material, language, and drug references. Before viewing this movie, it should be previewed, but here are the worst:

Language: F-ck, sh-t, masturbate, a-shole, whore, and dick. In one scene Ellie walks into the bathroom and Lizzy is naked taking pictures to send on her phone. The audience doesn’t see anything, but a fight ensues. Ellie grabs the phone and finds photo of a “dick pic.” That phrase is said repeatedly throughout this scene. 

Additionally, there is a scene where Ellie and Pete confront the person who sent the photo to Lizzy. There are a couple of scenes with blood. 

You may want to be aware of the following especially if you have adopted or have foster children: there are comments made about “rescuing” the children. There are also comments about “keeping our kids away from the foster kids.” 


Comedy – Don’t be pulled into this movie thinking it is just a movie that will have you laughing. It tackles a serious subject in a real pull at your heartstrings way. Think over the movies you have seen in the last few years. Are there any that have challenged you to think differently? Did any of those movies spur you to action? Do you think you can make a difference in a child’s life? Instant Family is a movie that will either make you sure you don’t want to foster or adopt, or it will convince you that this is the step you should take.

I saw this movie with my daughter. We both laughed and cried, and I left thinking, “If I was a few years younger…” I actually had the conversation with her on the way, but I was thinking I was too old to foster. Guess what? I am not! The reality is that I have been afraid to move forward with this. After watching Instant Family, I know that I want my husband to watch it too. Maybe it is time to have a serious conversation. 

My friend Sharon has some first hand experience with fostering in her family. Read her story HERE!

Visit for more ways to get involved – adopt, foster, or volunteer.

Instant FAmily Movie Review. Is this movie suitable for children? #fosterparent #adoption


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    We were almost that family. Even our judge was similar. Uncanny. Tho we laughed, we mostly cried. We didnt say much all the way home. It’s heart wrenching and we don’t know what to do to get past it.

    1. Patty Moliterno

      It was definitely an emotional movie. I hope that you have had time to process it. Hugs.

  4. I can’t wait to see this movie! It’s so great that they made this movie. I watched an interview with Mark Whalberg last night and he said this was loosely based on the director who decided to foster with his wife and ended up with 3 kids!

    1. Patty Moliterno

      At the beginning of the movie, it says that it is based on a true story. You will definitely laugh and cry. It is a great movie.

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