PITTSBURGH, PA

'Instant Family' an instant hit with target audience

Monday, November 05, 2018 - Updated: 3:30 pm

By John Mulderig

Catholic News Service

NEW YORK — The connections between real-life events and the forthcoming film "Instant Family" were the main topic of discussion at a recent news conference about the comedy.

The gathering, held at New York City's Mandarin Oriental Hotel, featured, among others, stars Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as well as the movie's director and co-writer, Sean Anders.

Asked about the origins of the project, Anders responded that it all began with stories he would tell his script collaborator, John Morris, about his and his wife's experience adopting and raising three foster kids. It was Morris who struck on the idea of turning these anecdotes into a film, Anders said.

It didn't take Wahlberg, one of Hollywood's most prominent Catholics, long to make up his mind to join Anders for their third movie together, following 2015's "Daddy's Home" and its 2017 sequel. "I committed before I saw the script," remembered Wahlberg, who plays Pete, the adoptive father inspired by Anders. "It was something I wanted to be part of."

Byrne recalled that, in preparation for playing the role of Pete's wife, Ellie, she met with women who had fostered kids as well as with social workers who had served children in need of adoption.

The oldest of the trio of kids Pete and Ellie shelter, and eventually seek to adopt, is frequently rebellious teen Lizzie (Isabela Moner). Wahlberg could easily relate to the more challenging of Lizzie's actions since he was simultaneously "dealing with similar behavior" on the part of his own adolescent daughter.

While acknowledging that much of the humor in the film was derived from the "chaotic, awkward situations" in which he and his wife sometimes found themselves, Anders also observed that "spending a year making a movie about your family, and how much you love your kids, is therapeutic — in a good way."

Once the picture was completed, the filmmakers, Anders said, arranged for it to be pre-screened for an audience of foster parents.

Fandango's Erik Davis, who moderated the event, said the website had been "inundated" by reaction to"Instant Family" from people affected by fostering and adoption. He added that the film's trailer was the most-watched of any Fandango had ever posted.

"Instant Family" will be released Nov. 16 by Paramount Pictures. It's rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "thematic elements, sexual material, language and some drug references."


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