Review: INSTANT FAMILY Is Cute But Clichéd Family Fun


Instant Family is enjoyable enough, and the stars' charisma shines through, but it is too formulaic and reinforces too many stereotypes to be memorable.
Technical Merit
- Advertisement -

Instant Family is the newest film teaming the pair of writer-director Sean Anders and star Mark Wahlberg (Daddy’s Home and its sequel, Daddy’s Home 2). This movie stars Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as a couple who find themselves over their heads when they take in three children as foster parents.

On one hand, this is a cutesy, (mostly) family-friendly film with quite a few positive messages. There are a few laughs to be had, a few tears to run, and a few moments in which your heart will feel warm and fuzzy. On the other hand, it’s a largely manipulative and reinforces multiple stereotypes.

Is that a bad thing? Well, not necessarily. It does its job and is sure to land with its target audience quite well. It’s also a rather enjoyable watch. However, one cannot help but watch and be frustrated by the way in which the movie seems to acknowledge and accept stereotypes without much thought.

instant family group

- Advertisement -

Granted, the film does poke fun at itself in a few spots. There are conversations in which the characters discuss the implications of being “white savior” adoptive parents or “The Blind Side” adoptive parents. However, multiple other stereotypes fly under the radar. Why does the Latina teenager have to be drawn to bad boys? Why is the same-sex couple comprised of one flamboyant partner and one lethargic partner? These are just a few of the issues that came to mind.

The movie is also rather long. Clocking in at just under two hours, it could have spared to be more compact. There are some scenes, especially towards the beginning, that could have been cut. The film becomes significantly more interesting when the children actually become involved, so some of the scenes that didn’t involve them may have been better off left out.

That being said, it’s hard not to connect with the characters emotionally. Over the course of the story, they are effectively (albeit formulaically) built in ways that easily elicit sympathy from the audience. They are likable and you root for the characters. While the movie does praise people who adopt or act as foster parents, it makes sure to show that they aren’t all absolute “saints”.

instant family couple

Obviously, the film pretty closely adheres to the formula of the family comedy, but it’s a compelling story nonetheless. The movie also has a lot of cross-generational and cross-cultural appeal. It has broad appeal to family audiences, but will land especially well with parents who have adopted kids themselves.

The execution isn’t anything special, but it’s a studio comedy, so that is understandable. However, the editing is frustrating at times, with sudden uses of amateurish transitions. The actors all do a decent job in their roles. Both Wahlberg and Byrne seem like they were legitimately enjoying themselves. The highlight of the movie is famous character actress Margo Martindale (BoJack Horseman fans, anyone?), whose turn gets a lot of laughs. Octavia Spencer feels wasted in her role, though, with far too little screen time.

Overall, despite a formulaic plot and an abundance of stereotypes, Instant Family still manages to be an enjoyable and heartwarming watch. It is a solid pick for a family (or adopted family) outing this holiday season.

Instant Family opens in theaters October 16.

Save 50% on graphic novels, statues & more!
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film; however, he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.


If you want your BUSINESS to be part of something bigger than itself, you might be a good fit to partner with Monkeys Fighting Robots.

Review: INSTANT FAMILY Is Cute But Clichéd Family Fun 2


Review: INSTANT FAMILY Is Cute But Clichéd Family Fun 3

Are you a creator looking for a review of your book?
Use the form below to end us a message.

Are you a fan of the website and have a comment, question, or concern? Drop us a line, and we will gladly answer all your questions.


Monkeys Fighting Robots is looking for passionate writers to drive the site’s coverage of the comic book industry. Authors will be responsible for a particular niche, providing reviews, opinion and news coverage, while building a reader community using his or her multimedia storytelling skills. The best candidates have solid writing skills, WordPress knowledge, and are engaged on social media. Do you love comic books and have a strong opinion, then we would like to speak with you.

Review: INSTANT FAMILY Is Cute But Clichéd Family Fun 4


COMIC REVIEW DIGEST, sign up today! At Monkeys Fighting Robots, we strive to talk about ALL aspects of a comic book, instead of just giving you a recap of the story.
  • Did you notice how epic the colors were?
  • That was a wicked panel layout by the artist!
  • What was the letterer thinking?
  • How did this comic book make you feel?
  • Most importantly, should you buy it?

Every Wednesday you will receive an email with our latest reviews and analyses, as well as our original comic strips and exclusive editorial content.
Thanks for signing up!