Instant Family – Movie Review

I did not want to see this movie. When the link was sent to me by another foster mom, I immediately told her I was not going to go. I don’t like going into situations knowing my heart strings are going to be pulled. I don’t do lifetime or hallmark Christmas movies. It’s just not my cup of tea. I realize that this is a foster care movie, I realize it would make me laugh, but it was just too close to comfort. I didn’t want to do this! And they couldn’t make me. So a group of foster moms and I went on opening day.  I hate/love my friends for making me do things I don’t want to do!

The movie was very real. It did make me cry, but they didn’t leave you there for as long as other movies in this genre like to do sometimes. I also appreciated that they didn’t sugar coat the life of foster parents or kids. It was obvious that the writers of this movie did their homework and interviewed many social workers, foster kids and parents. So many aspects of our fears, of our secret thoughts, and of our joys were covered by this movie and I was grateful for it.

Would I take my foster kids to see this movie? I cannot paint with a broad paint brush with this question.  I would recommend it only for the older foster kids who feel safe with their foster parents and only if your kid is capable to deal with strong themes like seeing a drug addicted mother repeatedly abandon her kids. For example, I think my 13 year old foster son would be okay watching this movie.  On the other hand, my 12 year old foster daughter who struggles with missing her mom and abandonment would not be okay watching this movie until she is much older. She still has a lot of healing to do before she sees her nightmare played out on the screen. But for my older one, this movie will provide so many awesome opportunities to have deep conversations with him. We can talk about what he related to the most or what he thought wasn’t right. He could also see (hopefully) just how difficult it is to be a foster parent and some of our fears and concerns. I do recommend you watch the movie first on your own and then assess if your foster kids would be okay with it.

I do recommend this movie to all who have thought for more than half a second about fostering or adopting out of foster care. I also recommend this movie to anyone who likes family drama genres.

The movie does contain adult themes that are not strangers to foster parents like comfort masturbating, sexting, cuss words, manipulation, drugs, sexual abuse, running away etc. There is also several times that God’s name is used in vain. There is also a gay couple who fosters a little boy. Generally the mood is light about all these things and I really enjoyed the political incorrectness. This just added more to the general authentic feel of the movie and frankly its comedic value. There was no nudity or sex scenes.

Just be aware, this is not a “Christian” movie. There is a Christian couple that is made fun of, but everyone is made fun of – even the gay couple! The movie is all around very secular. There is a scene at the very end where the main actors answer the question “why they chose to foster” to their teenage foster daughter and although their answer is very sweet, it is also very humanist and came short for me. This is why as Christians, we have such an advantage in foster care to live out the Gospel with these children. Our answer to this question runs red deep in meaning and purpose! I wrote more about this in this blog.

When we enter into the world, the world in all its non-glory exposes itself to us. We cannot shudder away from this with tight lips and eyes closed. The world was us and there are still many not yet part of our fold who are in it. Let’s go get them.

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There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.
– I John 4:18-19