DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Sean Anders
Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner
Writing Credits:
Sean Anders, John Morris

A couple find themselves in over their heads when they foster three children.

Box Office:
$48 million.
Opening Weekend:
$14,504,315 on 3286 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Audio Description
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 3/5/2019

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Sean Anders and Writer John Morris
• Deleted/Extended Scenes
• Gag Reel
• “Mr. and Mrs. Fix-It” Featurette
• “Kid Power” Featurette
• “Order In the Court” Featurette
• “The Families Behind the Fair” Featurette
• “Crew Inspiration” Featurette
• “The Anders Family” Featurette
• Music Video
• “On Set Proposal”
• DVD Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Instant Family [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 18, 2019)

Sign I’m old: Mark Wahlberg now stars as the dad in family comedies. I still think of him as the late-teen Marky Mark who performed awful semi-rap songs in the early 90s – how’d this happen?

Well, at least it’s less of a leap than the sight of former badass Ice Cube in the same kinds of movies. As much as younger Wahlberg postured, he couldn’t scare a fly.

2018’s Instant Family introduces us to Pete and Ellie Wagner (Wahlberg and Rose Byrne), a married couple who find something missing in their lives. When they visit a foster care facility, they become convinced to take in some kids.

This leads three youngsters to join the Wagner household, as teen Lizzy (Isabela Moner) and her younger siblings Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz) come home with them. Not quite ready for all the involved challenges, Pete and Ellie struggle to cope with their newfound parental status.

Though it got pretty good reviews, I didn’t see Family during its theatrical run. Strong critical notices only go so far, and the movie looked so mawkish and predictable that I just couldn’t muster the energy to check it out on the big screen.

Good call on my part. While I respect the message at the heart of Family, the end result pours on the goop to such a relentless degree that it becomes tough to swallow.

Family takes its inspiration from the real-life experiences of co-writer/director Sean Anders, and he clearly feels passion about the subject matter. Unfortunately, his affection for the topic of foster parenting and adoption translates into more of a long Public Service Announcement than a coherent film.

Woof, does Family shove its message at us! From start to finish, the movie makes sure we know that “adoption is an option” and all the realities of the foster system.

Again, I admire the film’s goals, but too often, Family submerges its characters and story for this social purpose. A better flick would balance the two in a smoother manner.

If the movie mustered a more believable, engaging narrative, the emphasis on its message would feel less problematic. However, Family goes down such a contrived, mawkish path that it becomes tough to embrace.

Family grabs hold of Hollywood Cute and won’t let go. Even when the situations turn more antagonistic, they still feel safe and simplistic, without the bite that a more realistic tale would deliver.

Not that every movie needs to be dark and brutal, but there’s just something off-putting about how shallow Family remains. It engages in so many cliché circumstances that it fails to deliver anything beyond sitcom simplicity.

We do get a good cast in Family, and Wahlberg and Byrne show nice chemistry. I’m not especially wild about Wahlberg as a comedic presence, but he accomplishes his role’s goals, and the more talented Byrne adds heart and grounding to the tale.

Given how well-meaning all behind Family seem, I hate to feel so disenchanted with the movie itself. Nonetheless, the flick becomes so safe and easy that it lacks much to endear itself to an audience.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Instant Family appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a consistently strong image.

Sharpness always remained positive, as the movie exhibited fine delineation and accuracy. Any softness remained negligible in this tight presentation.

The film lacked moiré effects or jaggies, and it also didn’t suffer from any edge haloes. Print haloes remained absent.

Colors favored a mix of teal and amber, with an emphasis on the last one given the sense of familial warmth the movie embraced. The hues came across as well-developed.

Blacks seemed deep and dense, while shadows appeared smooth and concise. Everything about the image satisfied.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix, it showed scope generally typical of the comedy soundfield. That said, a few “action” elements occasionally allowed it to open up in a satisfying manner.

These added some immersiveness, as did a few other exteriors, but those instances remained fairly infrequent. The mix used the score in a broad, engaging manner, though, and the whole package fit together smoothly.

Audio quality seemed good. Speech was distinctive and natural, without edginess or other issues.

Music seemed warm and lush, while effects showed nice clarity and accuracy. Bass response delivered great punch. The mix suited the story and kicked into higher gear when necessary.

We get a slew of extras here, and we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Sean Anders and writer John Morris. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters and how Anders’ real-life circumstances inspired the movie, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, and related subjects.

Anders dominates the track, and he devotes more time to a discussion of his family and foster/adoption-related topics than movie-making domains. That seems fine with me, as Anders offers a good view of the facts behind the flick’s fiction. We get enough production information to balance the areas and turn this into a lively, satisfying piece.

Including introductions from Anders and Morris, five Deleted/Extended Scenes fill a total of 10 minutes, 51 seconds. These tend toward minor expositional/character moments, none of which add much in terms of necessary information. A few seem fairly amusing, though.

The intros give us basics about the scenes and why they failed to make the cut. Anders and Morris add some decent information.

A Gag Reel spans three minutes, nine seconds and shows the standard mix of goofs, giggles and jokes. It’s a pretty mediocre compilation.

A slew of featurettes follow, and Mr. and Mrs. Fix-It goes for four minutes, 11 seconds and offers notes from Andersand actors Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, and Octavia Spencer.

“Fix-It” discusses Anders’ real-life situation as well as story/characters. It tends to feel pretty fluffy.

With Kid Power, we find a nine-minute, eight-second reel that features Anders, Morris, Byrne, Wahlberg, casting director Sheila Jaffe, producer Marc Evans and actors Julianna Gamiz, Isabela Moner and Gustavo Quiroz.

“Power” covers the film’s young actors. The material covered tends to just praise the kids, but the test/audition footage adds interest.

I Need Some Support spans five minutes, 17 seconds and features Anders, Byrne, Spencer, Wahlberg and actor Tig Notaro. We learn about the foster parent groups and their representation in the film. A smattering of moderately effective details pop up here, mainly when we learn about the facts involved.

Next comes Order In the Court, a three-minute, 53-second reel with Anders, Jaffe, foster care consultant/PA Maraide Green and actors Julie Hagerty, Joselin Reyers, Michael O’Keefe and Margo Martindale. We get thoughts about the movie’s ending but mainly find an ad for foster care/adoption.

During the nine-minute, 14-second The Families Behind the Fair, we hear from Anders and various real-life foster families. We learn how the latter participated on one of the movie’s scenes. It’s essentially another Public Service Announcement for foster care, though we get a few more thoughts from Anders about his real-life circumstances.

Crew Inspiration fills four minutes, 59 seconds with remarks from Anders, Green, Morris, Byrne, Reyes, Jaffe, Moner, Wahlberg, and actors Starshia Conley, Lori Hernandez and Candice Daniels.

“Inspiration” looks at some crew experiences with the foster system. It brings another call for people to foster/adopt and doesn’t tell us much otherwise.

Lastly, The Anders Family occupies seven minutes, five seconds and features Anders and his wife Beth as well as Wahlberg, O’Keefe, Hernandez, Byrne, Spencer and Notaro.

As expected, this show offers more material about Anders’ real-life family. We get some of this elsewhere but “Family” summarizes matters fairly well despite the usual fluff.

A music video for Isabela Moner’s “I’ll Stay”. The song that runs over the film’s end credits, the video mixes movie clips and recording studio shots. It’s pretty forgettable.

On Set Proposal last two minutes, 35 seconds and shows what the title implies, as we see a wedding proposal during the production. It’s cute but probably more fun for those involved than the rest of us.

A second disc offers a DVD copy of Family. It includes none of the Blu-ray’s extras.

A mix of comedy and drama, Instant Family comes with good intentions. Unfortunately, it buries these beneath cheap stabs at humor and a general sense of mawkish sentimentality. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture along with appropriate audio and a long but erratic set of supplements. Family fails to become an engaging tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 3
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main