Movie Reviews

Instant Family (2018)

instant-family-movie-review-poster-2018Director: Sean Anders

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Runtime: 118 Minutes

Main Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner, Gustavo Quiroz, Julianna Gamiz, Octavia Spencer, Tig Notaro, Margo Martindale, Julie Hagerty

Plot: Pete and Ellie have a fantastic life and relationship. They’ve spent many of their early years building up their house-renovating business and are very successful at it. However, they’ve reached a point where they want a family, but worry that they’re too old, which leads them to look at becoming foster parents.

My Thoughts: I don’t know what brought me to the cinema the other night to see Instant Family, I got an offer of an early preview at my local cinema but I’d seen the trailer already and wasn’t impressed at all. I guess it was fate in the end because I ended up really enjoying it! The trailer made it look like an unfunny comedy but it’s got a heck of a lot of heart, and it’s funny in that Dramedy way.

The movie brings to light the problems around foster kids, especially the teenagers who just get stuck in the system because parents mainly look for a younger child to foster. Pete and Ellie find a connection with teen Lizzy, not knowing that she was a package deal with her younger siblings Juan and Lita. Chaos ensues from their first night together which is where a lot of the laughs come from, but things take a more serious turn when the kid’s birth Mother returns to the scene.

One of the highlights of Instant Family is the cast. I always enjoy Rose Byrne, Mark Wahlberg is hit and miss but he’s good here. The kids are wonderful and not irritating in the slightest. Then you have some great side characters played by Octavia Spencer and Margo Martindale to name just two. There really is a lot to love here.

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Is the plot predictable in every sense? Yes. Does the movie still skim over the dark side of the fostering system? Absolutely. But it’s funny, it’s sweet, it made me laugh and cry in equal measure and all in all, it was far better than it had any right to be.

Best Bit: I can think of a few, but what made me laugh loudest was Juan being a clutz at the grocery store and then shouting ‘No, please don’t hit me!’ over and over again. The reactions of passers-by were brilliant.

Worst Bit: The night before the court case. Curse my stupid Mum emotions. The stupid movie was making me ugly-cry, the heating was broken in my screen and my tears were falling down my top and making me even colder.

Fun Trivia: The film was inspired by writer/director Sean Anders’ experience adopting through Seneca Family of Agencies’ Kinship Center.

My Rating: 3 and a half out of 5 hairbrushes, which you’ll find in the toilet if you need them…

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Movie Reviews

Review: The Happening (2008)

the-happening-movie-review-2008I was too much of a wimp to see Split (2017) in the cinema in January, and the wait for it to be released on DVD is killing me. I’m not a hardcore Shyamalan fan per se, but I love a thriller movie with a twist! I’m pretty sure I’ve seen all the ‘good’ Shyamalan movies, but I was desperate, and so despite the fairly cold reviews, I gave The Happening (2008) a try the other night. This is a movie that I’ve forever mixed up with The Knowing (2009) which I now realise is just called Knowing, so it looks like I’ve been pulling a Hidden Fences blunder for years.

Moving swiftly on…

Guys, there is no way I can discuss this movie without spoilers. Let me tell you the plot, and if you want to watch it un-spoiled from that, then please just close down this page and hunt down a copy. I’ll save the ‘I told you so’ for when you come back. In The Happening, a strange plague hits Central Park in New York which causes people to kill themselves. A lady stabs herself in the neck with her hair accessory, and workers jump from scaffolding into the streets. Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) flee their home.

Right. Now we enter spoiler territory. The greatest plot twists are those that seem so outrageous at the time, but when you start to backtrack through the movie, the clues were all there in plain sight for you to see, leaving you feeling a little hurt, but amazed. The worst kind are either outrageous with no reasoning behind them, or so bleedin’ obvious that you wonder whether there was a twist at all!

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Setting the scene here, at the opening of the movie, Mark Wahlberg is a Science teacher talking to his students about an incident where thousands of bees simply disappeared without a trace, no bodies left behind. After a discussion with the group, he tells them that Science may give the situation an explanation, but what actually happened was a force of nature, and is unexplainable. Right, so I’m guessing that this plague is a force of nature that can’t be explained then? An hour and a half later, yes, I was right. Oh.

If you can move past that, and the horrendous acting (how did this cast make the dialogue sound so bad?) this might be a good movie to watch this friends and a few too many alcoholic drinks. Let me highlight some of the crazier parts for you:

  • Mark Wahlberg has a serious conversation with a house plant, basically asking it not to kill him, just to find out it’s made of plastic.
  • He also creeps into some old lady’s bedroom to find a hella-scary doll tucked into the bed. WHY.
  • When the gang realise it’s the plants killing them (or sending them crazy) Mark Wahlberg shouts for them to ‘outrun the wind’. Um…what?
  • Have I mentioned yet that the Earth’s population is being murdered by plants?

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At least when I get this movie confused with Knowing, it won’t matter any more, because they’re both terrible. I’m not going to lie though, I had a brilliant time watching this, laying out on the sofa with my headphones in, giving a running commentary to my very confused husband. I think he thought I was joking most of the time. 2 out of 5 murderous plants from me!

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