Instant Family: Love in Progress

By Zita Lam

Parenting is not a piece of cake, needless to say about foster parenting. While the holiday season emphasizes the celebration of love, the appreciation of life and the act of giving, Rose Byrne and Mark Wahlberg’s latest movie Instant Family unfolds the hardships that lie behind the veil of any “perfect relationship” that takes sacrifice, patience, and time to maintain.

Thought this will be another Daddy’s Home movie? This comedy-drama film actually aims to highlight the ups and downs of a foster parent in a realistic way. Inspired by director Sean Anders’ real-life experience, Instant Family follows Ellie (Rose Byrne) and Pete Wagner (Mark Wahlberg) as a married couple who decides to foster kids to, in a way, fill the void of their marriage.

The Wagners visit a foster care center and learn to become the adoptive parent, under the guidance of the social workers. The couple first encounters Lizzie (Isabela Moner), a foster teen, in an adoption fair, and later on, they find out Lizzie also has two younger siblings, Juan and Lita. Although it seems to the Wagners there is a connection between them and the kids, adopting multiple children at one time could be a challenge for the new parent.

This instant family begins to live together, and they have a so-called “honeymoon time” for awhile until realizing that the merge of five people’s life could be pretty chaotic. Lita is stubborn and free-spirit. If she refuses to eat anything but potato chips, there is no way to change her mind without the yellings and cryings. Juan is a sensitive and vulnerable kid who needs extra attention, also because he is extremely clumsy. Last but not least, Lizzie has a hard time adjusting the new life at the Wagners. She has a thick wall built around her heart and she is constantly mean to the new parent.

As the couple thought things couldn’t be worse, the trio’s drug addict mother Carla is released from the prison and she wants the custody of the kids. Fearing to lose their foster children, the couple is devastated. After days and nights of heart-searching, they need to find out the real reason why they choose to be a foster parent – is it because to feel good about themselves, or is it because they want to give the foster kids a family?

The hectic that is highlighted in the movie is pretty much a mirror to us. We were teenagers, we were troubled, and soon enough we might be the parent who needs to deal with all the frustrations (or you are already). Every family has its problems; however, there is also love to help us bond. This holidays, don’t forget to show your friends and family how important they are. Reassurance – don’t we all just need to feel beloved sometimes?