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Review | ‘Instant Family’ doesn’t sugar coat heavy subject matter.

When Pete and Ellie decide to start a family in Instant Family, they stumble into the world of foster care adoption. They hope to take in one small child, but when they meet three siblings, including a rebellious 15-year-old girl, they find themselves speeding from zero to three kids overnight. Now, Pete and Ellie must try to learn the ropes of instant parenthood in the hope of becoming a family.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “This movie deals with a very heavy subject — the foster care system. Foster kids go through a lot of terrible stuff, which greatly affects them psychologically. One thing I really like about this movie is that it doesn’t sugar coat the hard reality. It dives straight into the lives of foster kids, without simplifying what they’ve gone through.”

See her full review below:

Now, I must admit that I’m a bit biased. My mom has worked with foster kids for 20 years and I’ve helped out a charity that helps foster kids. So foster children are really important to me and this movie really reflects the truth about this system in an emotional and funny way.

The story follows Pete and Ellie, a couple who feel as though there is something missing in their life. They decide to adopt three siblings from the foster care system. However, they find that raising children is a lot harder than they thought.

Related: Reflections on Adoption: A family is created—with time, love and fate

This movie deals with a very heavy subject – the foster care system. Foster kids go through a lot of terrible stuff, which greatly affects them psychologically. One thing I really like about this movie is that it doesn’t sugar coat the hard reality. It dives straight into the lives of foster kids, without simplifying what they’ve gone through. I really like this as it breaks the impressions that a lot of people have about raising a foster kid – that it’s not as hard as raising your own kid. That is not the case and the movie perfectly shows this. It may seem like the kids are unlikable because of this, however, they grow on you. It took quite a while for Pete and Ellie to grow on me, however. They’re very impatient and annoying for a lot of the movie. And, although they get better over time, it kind of takes a while.

This movie is a comedy. So how is the comedic aspect? Pretty good. However, at the beginning, there are lots of jokes about foster kids that feel very forced. While they technically have a purpose. They just weren’t funny to me. For example, there is a joke where Pete says one kid looks like she has fetal alcohol syndrome or was chained to a radiator her whole life. While there is a funny pay off, the implications kind of made me uncomfortable and it was part of the reason why I didn’t like Pete and Ellie.

I admit that when the film starts to get really emotional, it really hits hard. The acting is really great in the serious scenes, especially from Lizzy (Isabela Moner). Of course, I need to give a shout out to Octavia Spencer who plays Karen, one of the caseworkers. I really like Octavia Spencer and she makes every scene she’s in absolutely outstanding!

I would give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it for ages 13 to 18. I would also recommend this movie for people who are considering becoming foster parents. If you want to mentor foster youth go to your local group home and help out. This movie is out on November 16, 2018. Look for it.

— Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

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