Blockbusters may be his forte — the Transformers films and Ted among them — but Mark Wahlberg has certainly proven that he has no problem getting in there for serious dramas, gentle comedies, or a combination of both. The latter could very well describe his newest film, Instant Family.
Paramount Pictures offers this description of the film: “When Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) decide to start a family, they stumble into the world of foster care adoption. They hope to take in one small child but when they meet three siblings, including a rebellious 15-year-old girl (Isabela Moner, who Mark had worked with previously on last year’s Transformers: The Last Knight), they find themselves speeding from zero to three kids overnight with Gustavo Quiroz as middle child Juan, and Julianna Gamiz as the youngest, Lita. Now, Pete and Ellie must hilariously try to learn the ropes of instant parenthood in the hopes of becoming a family.”
Instant Family is actually inspired by the real-life events of writer/director Sean Anders, who Mark had previously collaborated with on the considerably sillier Daddy’s Home and Daddy’s Home 2. “Sean was brave enough to bring three children into his home that were in foster care,” Mark points out. “He had talked to me a little bit about the idea of making this movie during the beginning of Daddy’s Home 2, but it was just an idea and we talked about other things in the past. But when he came to me and said, ‘I really want to do this, are you interested?’ I absolutely fell in love with the idea.”
In reflecting on the movie’s premise, Mark explains, “Sean kind of made an offhand remark to his wife one day about the possibility of adopting a child, and that inspired the idea for the film. So in the film, my wife and I have become pretty successful in our business of flipping houses, but there’s always this kind of competition back can forth with her and her sisters about having children, not having children, feeling the pressure of having children. When Ellie starts to realize that there are so many children in the foster care system who desperately need homes, you can’t help but want to explore this and bring as many kids home as possible — not knowing all the different things that you will face bringing children into your home. You know, all the things they’ve been through and just what it takes to kind of bond and connect and become a real family. I’m resistant to the idea, but as soon as I see these kids and these beautiful faces, I’m, like, ‘Oh my God, we have to look into this.’ And it really becomes this kind of rollercoaster of a ride.
“It starts out pretty good,” he continues, “but people tell them that it’s just the honeymoon phase, and of course it becomes difficult to the point where we’re thinking we got in over our heads. On top of that, our oldest foster child is interested in reconnecting with her mom, so she’s constantly pursuing that. Eventually, though, we kind of realize that we need them and they need us. And as things went on, we really did start to feel like family. You always kind of have this weird family feel to a movie set, but not like this. Right now, even though I’m sitting on the set, I don’t feel like I’m sitting on the set. It’s like, ‘What are these strangers doing in my living room?’”
Mark admits that right from the beginning of his conversations with Sean about this idea, he found himself extremely moved. “Being a parent, knowing what it’s like and how difficult it can be for children in the foster care system, I was always very emotional,” he says. “But then, having read the script and having laughed hysterically and cried quite a bit, too, it was one of those things where you just want to make sure it works. Sean is great when it comes to the tone and pushing things with humor, but also kind of delivering on an emotional level with audiences that I think will really be satisfying to them. Ultimately I think people will feel really good about having just spent two hours watching the story, and hopefully encouraging and inspiring people to look into children in the foster care system, bringing them home and creating a home for them. I really think it can be a very feel good movie in a time where people need to feel good, and people need to be reminded of the importance of family and connecting with others.”
Instant Family will be released on Nov. 16.