Last week, Nate and I saw Instant Family with my in-laws. The film has been getting rave reviews among acquaintances in the adoption community, but poor reviews from those pesky paid critics who may or may not have any exposure to foster care adoption.
As for us, we all enjoyed and appreciated the movie overall. Considering the storyline was based on the personal foster care adoption journey of the director’s family, the overall plot of the movie was pretty true-to-life. A couple in their late 30s/early 40s who never had biological kids becomes aware of the need for foster parents. They take the classes and get matched with a sibling group of three who was removed from their first family due to issues with drugs. Shit hits the fan as they learn how to parent for the both the first time, and parent kids with trauma backgrounds. The case goes back and forth from pre-adoption to reunification, and all the while the parents go to support groups, school events, meetings with social workers, etc. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it’s worth a watch to see how it turns out.
The characters were very relatable. The movie gave enough screen time to getting to know the many sides of each character. The fears and anxieties of the parents were presented very honestly, which I appreciated, and there was even a hilarious dinner scene where extended family members expressed their “concerns” that had us smirking. The kids were three different ages and had unique ways of coping with challenges, which gave a well-rounded perspective on how trauma impacts children.
Some of the second-circle characters did not ring a bell, however. The social workers were very heavy handed, and the support groups came off as judgmental, which have not been our experiences. But the relationship between the two social workers was hilarious, and Tig Notaro’s delivery of the one-liners was on point. After the first few scenes, I chose to take off my “accuracy glasses” and just enjoy the humor for what it was.
Overall thoughts: go see Instant Family while it’s still in theatres, or consider renting or buying it later. We will definitely be snagging the DVD when it comes out!