Instant Family

MPAA Rating:
119 mins
Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner
Sean Anders
Sean Anders, Stephen Levinson, John Morris, Mark Wahlberg, David Womack

Content at a Glance


teenager sending nude pictures, spoken about not seen. teenager dresses sexually. lots of innuendo.


many uses of god’s name(s) in vain, f-bombs and countless other profane expletives.


parents assault a kid they suspect of sexting their daughter


No Information


see “sex”


No Information



The Dove Take:

Not Dove Approved, unfortunately because of the oh-so-true storytelling. But this a powerful and motivating journey of genuine love.

Movie Message

If you’ve seen the trailer, you know the story. Wahlberg and Company deliver performances of this real-life near-reenactment that make you laugh while feeling sucker punched in the gut. As a parent, Instant Family is like watching the extreme pain and joy that all parents enjoy, but of course, through the important lens of adoption and foster care. The only enemy in this story is the wrenching pain of innocent kids caught in the brokenness of the adults in their lives.

The movie is the true story of Director Sean Anders family. He and his wife are the ones who found themselves with three new children in what felt like an overnight cataclysmic shift. In that, we’re probably also getting the authentic dialogue and gritty situations that the Anders’ faced in their own experience. Lots of profanity, teenage “sexting” and every unconventional situation possible.

We worry that the families who would actually appreciate this film won’t get to, because the whiplash of bad language. These are the hard decisions filmmakers make in balancing the work to tell their story and knowing which audience would want to hear it. As much as we honor the filmmaker’s desires, we also know that a story like this would fly much higher (and make more money) if they could have refrained from the intense crass language. The performances are superb, the story is beautiful, and it’s hilarious in so many easy ways!

The biggest factor in the relationships has to be Grandma Sandy, fashioned after Anders’ real life mom.
Margo Martindale bursts onto the scene, uninvited, and creates a love collision that changes everything. She says “We’re family now and I’ve got your back forever, do you hear me?” Grandma Sandy has a stand-up-and-cheer presence and it’s how I want to be for my kids … always.

Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro are brilliant in their steady understanding of this system and it’s impact on kids. They’re a big part of the poignant humor in this story and Anders told us they are the Social Worker professionals’ new heroes.

We so regret that this film is not Dove Approved.

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