by McClane • June 14, 2019
|Original title: Instant Family__Country of Manufacture: UNITED STATES__Publishing year: 2018__director: Sean Anders__Actor: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner, Gustavo Escobar, Julianna Gamiz, Octavia Spencer, Tig Notaro, Margo Martindale, Julie Hagerty, Tom Segura, Iliza Shlesinger, Allyn Rachel, Andrea Anders, Randy Havens, Joan Cusack, Michael O’Keefe and others.|
With his “Daddy’s Home” star Mark Wahlberg, Sean Anders shot “Suddenly Family”
With “Daddy’s Home” and its sequel, Sean Anders had not only built up a good connection to Mark Wahlberg, but also made a cash register, which in turn made his dream project possible: With “Suddenly Family”, he had his own experience as an adoptive father as a director, screenwriter and producer process three Hispanic children.
Accordingly, as a viewer, you cannot avoid the “Inspired by true events” plaque, which is probably mandatory today, before you meet the main characters of the film. Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie Wagner (Rose Byrne) are a happy couple who make their living renovating shacks and have had no children yet. However, when Ellie’s sister Kim (Allyn Rachel) and her husband Russ (Tom Segura) try to have children, Ellie has the feeling that they are missing something, with Pete saying as a casual comment that he would be a fairly old father and you’d better start with a five-year-old. In this respect, "Suddenly Family" may be based on real events, but you cannot avoid classic romances and comedy set pieces such as the ticking biological clock for the main female character or the lively family side kicks.
However, it becomes didactic in the film when Ellie actually looks around at an agency for adoption as a result of Pete’s comment, because now "Suddenly Family" shows how the American system works here: first potential candidates take courses, then they become foster parents and can possibly adopt afterwards – but only if the physical parents the children have no objection. In addition, teenagers are more difficult to mediate than smaller children or babies, siblings are best left together. Here "Suddenly Family" almost becomes a kind of infotainment, but Anders knows the casual, humorous presentation of the whole thing: Especially Karen (Octavia Spencer) and Sharon (Tig Notaro), who never embarrassed a loose saying or sarcastic comment on social workers, who lead the adaptation project cheer up.
During a meet-and-greet with potential candidates, Pete and Ellie notice the quick-witted teen Lizzy (Isabela Moner). This has two younger siblings, Juan (Gustavo Escobar) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz), but the Wagners to take the challenge – and only realize later what is really to come …
Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie Wagner (Rose Byrne) are looking for an adoptive child – and find three
One can notice “Suddenly Family” in a positive sense that this is a project of the heart, quasi a dream child of its director. So the film is also much closer to life than Anders ’previous idiot films, especially since it tries not to use conventions too much. The moment in which the film does not succeed is above all the final phase: after trials, tribulations and a near stroke of fate, the rudder suddenly turns, the path is clear for the peace-joy-pancake-happy end with triple frosting and slight nausea. And in fact, this is a blow that "Suddenly Family" almost breaks the neck. But only almost, because somehow you are touched when almost the entire workforce shows up for a joint photo towards the end.
This is due to the catchy characters and their balance: Querkopf Lizzy, Tollpatsch Juan and Wüterich Lita are definitely problem children, which is not that incomprehensible due to their past as descendants of a drug addict. Ellie and Pete strive to do the right thing, but have to question their own motives again and again and admit to themselves that they are selfish, like missing free life without children. Even if the birth mother of the three children appears, she is not simply drawn as an antagonist. One also understands the impulses of Lizzy, who would like to return to the mother, who knows and transfigures her, like those of Juan and Lita, for whom the birth mother is a less present memory. This is how Sean Anders addresses the adoptive system with its idiosyncrasies, advantages and pitfalls in a well-thought-out, balanced manner and makes it touchingly human, for example when Lizzy and Ellie first feel a connection while brushing their hair.
Social workers Karen (Octavia Spencer) and Sharon (Tig Notaro) with Lizzy (Isabela Moner)
But of course "Suddenly Family" is also a comedy and as such quite charming. Some things are more slapstick, especially when it comes to Juan’s penchant for fatigue and injuries, some are more verbal battles or weird situations – such as the not entirely unclever thematization of the White Savior complex with “Avatar” reference, the “The Blind Side” – Running gag or the scene in which Lizzy cleverly wraps Pete’s actually tough mother Sandy (Margo Martindale) around her finger. Even the armada of funny supporting characters, from Petes and Ellies families through the other members of the foster parent group to the social workers, is cleverly integrated, has corners and edges and does not degenerate into a comic relief. This applies only to the sloppy foster parents who look after the trio in front of Pete and Ellie, but these living hillbilly clichés, which look like backwood characters transported into the city, only appear in one scene, as does Joan Cusack ("Teen Lover ") as a weird neighbor who is only there for a few rather cheap laughs.
There are some well-known ones anyway Names and Faces in small and small roles: Margo Matindale ("Orphan") and Julie Haggerty ("She’s the Man") as grandmas, Allyn Rachel ("Kong: Skull Island") as sister, Andrea Anders ("Joey"; by the way, the sister) of the director) as an adoptive mother and “Stranger Things” teacher Randy Havens as part of a gay adoptive father couple. Tig Notaro ("Girls’ Evening") and Octavia Spencer ("Snowpiercer") stand out the most, who play the balls brilliantly as social workers and provide various highlight scenes in which they almost steal the film. The main focus is of course on the original family that gives the title, which is also convincing. Mark Wahlberg ("Rock Star") plays his slightly chubby and sometimes slightly aggressive work class charm again, Rose Byrne ("X-Men: First Class") is even better than Mama, who often feels unappreciated, and Gustavo Escobar ( "Peppermint") and Julianna Gambiz ("Making Babies") convince as younger problem children. Isabela Moner ("Sicario 2"), however, plays particularly strongly, embodying the facets of a teenager who had to grow up too early and who wants to be tough and cared for child at the same time.
With such brilliant performances, Sean Anders’ sense for figures and subject as well as some charming gags, "Suddenly Family" is also convincing as a warm family comedy, some predictability and a kitsch final sprint of the worst kind. But the film bears his heart too much in the right place to be forgiven.
"Suddenly Family" comes on DVD and Blu-Ray from Paramount, released for ages 6 and up.
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