What Instant Family Gets Right About Adoption, According To The Director

Instant Family Rose Byrne Mark Wahlberg in a laughing embrace

Adoption is something that we've seen come up in numerous films. Sure enough, in almost every case, the subject is tackled with more or less the same attitude. But what they tend to leave out are the more positive sides of the adoption story. This is something co-writer/director Sean Anders set out to correct when he created the story for this weekend's big release Instant Family, as you can see in his remarks below:

There've been great movies about the subject of adoption and foster care, but unfortunately they a lot of times focus on the trauma and the tragedy. They leave people walking away with feelings of fear and pity and negativity and that sort of adds to the stigma. I wanted to make a movie that doesn't shy away from the kind of tragedy and trauma that is involved with it, but also gets into the laughter, love, and the joy of a family coming together in that way.

Talking with CinemaBlend during the Instant Family press day, Sean Anders was asked about how he felt the subject of adoption was handled in the past, as well as how he approached it from a more personal, corrective attitude. Just mention the subject of adoption to a moviegoer, and they'd probably recall films like Losing Isaiah or, more recently, Philomena, where the process of adoption is something that feels more like a fearsome/family breaking practice.

As an adoptive father to three foster children himself, Sean Anders obviously wouldn't let the subject continue to be treated in such a stark manner. So he started to put together the story for the film in-between making the Daddy's Home films, with his co-writer from that series, John Morris, providing an assist.

While Instant Family isn't a candy-coated fantasy that paints the foster care experience as a concretely uplifting process, it does add a level of heartfelt comedy into the mix. Throughout the film, we see not only the adjustment process of the children that Mark Wahlberg's Pete and Rose Byrne's Ellie are fostering with the intentions to adopt, we also see the would-be parents attending group sessions to acclimatize themselves to the situation as well.

Instant Family could be seen as, in a sense, a step in the right direction when it comes to films handling adoption. But there's obviously more work to be done, and Sean Anders provided the following advice to whomever decides to step into the ring next:

I would encourage anybody making a film on the topic of foster care to make sure that they touch on who these kids are, and that even if they're hurting and even if they're coming from a traumatic place, that they're still just kids who need love, and need moms and dads at homes to live in. And that these kids are also really strong. A lot of times they are stronger than your average kid, because of what they've had to persevere through. So I just wanted people to have a better understanding of who the kids are.

From the best place one can come from, square at the center of their own heartfelt experience, Sean Anders set out to change how adoption is shown in films. You can feel the success in the resulting film, Instant Family, as the laughs aren't forced and the dramatic components are handled with similar commitment to realism.

Instant Family is in theaters now, offering another family friendly option to partake in during this year's Thanksgiving season.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.