Film delivers honesty and laughs
They say you should always write what you know about, and from the heart. But, in Hollywood, that adage is hard to believe, given how cynical the product and marketing machine can be.
However, in Instant Family (in cinemas now), Hollywood has put a truth on screen that is often ignored, and buried by schmaltz and saccharine.
Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne’s dramedy about a couple who decide to adopt a trio of kids is perhaps the most truthful movie to explore and explode some of the myths of the agony and ecstasy of dealing with taking on kids from foster care. And for that reason alone, it deserves to be shouted about.
It’s a surprise too, given that director Sean Anders who wrote it, was behind the worst film of the past decade, Daddy’s Home 2.
But Anders has form in this discussion – he, along with his wife, went through the adoption process, with all of its ups and downs.
As a result, Instant Family delivers humanity, empathy and pertinent understanding, while peppering the whole affair with the requisite laughs.
The makers know it’s best to avoid the stereotypes around dealing with social workers and belittle the harsh reality of bringing other kids into the fold.
Much like Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon drew deep from the well of personal experience for The Big Sick, Instant Family’s vein of veracity comes from Anders’ autobiographical input.
Instant Family deserves kudos for putting a face on adoption, so rarely seen in movies of this type, where the kids are usually portrayed as ‘‘kooky’’ and the system is a breeze.
In the first third of the film, the commitment to a heartbreaking truth is to be duly applauded, introducing complexities to what transpires.
Yet the film-makers are smart enough to realise that to get the message across, they need the audience on side throughout – and not once do they fumble.
It’s rare – and heartening – to see such honesty in a broad studio product, and while it strays away from too much didacticism, the film’s commitment to truth – punctuated with humour – is exceptionally commendable.
Elsewhere, there’s plenty of honesty on show in smaller cinema release Eighth Grade, about a teen on the cusp of American high school. Riddled with acne, bathed in the constant fluorescent glow of phone or computer screen, Elsie Fisher’s Kayla wears her awkward heart on her sleeve.
But Eighth Grade is more verite film than Napoleon Dynamite.
Less honesty is around in computer game Just Cause 4. The adventures of Rico Rodriguez as he takes on dictators were graced with cartoon laughs in their third outing, but this latest feels joyless, bloated and broken.
Instant Family, starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne, is a dramedy with a lot of heart.