Try 3 months for $3

This Irish wife and Norwegian husband adopted this German/Mexican baby, and they became a loving family.

That’s my story. It's among millions of heartwarming stories about adoption.

So how could I not love “Instant Family,” a wonderful movie about what makes a family? How could any viewers, regardless of whether they are adopted, not embrace the most heartwarming (so far) film of the year?

Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne star as Pete and Ellie, a couple who make a living flipping houses. When they begin to consider adopting an older child, they are touched by the faces of all the adoptable kids they see on the internet.

They attend a class for foster parents that is coordinated by two social workers (Tig Notaro and Octavia Spencer) who conduct the eight-week course for those who want to become foster parents.

When Pete and Ellie attend a sort of foster festival, they meet Lizzie (Isabel Moner, “Sicario: Day of the Soldier”) a 15-year-old who has two younger siblings Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz).

The kids are a cute bunch. Ellie and Pete are instantly smitten. But they are warned that they are going through a honeymoon period … and boy, are they ever. Soon tempers flare, boundaries are tested and the two grownups wonder just what the heck they were thinking.

The processes of the foster-care system, the reasons why children are removed from families, and the issues that arise while a group of people becomes a family are true-to-life, poignant – especially when it comes to the biological mother of the children - and often hilarious.

This memorable ensemble includes the wonderful character actress Margo Martindale as Pete’s mother, as well as a cameo by Joan Cusack.

This movie, which also could be considered a faith-based movie because the family is shown during prayer, does contain some f-bombs and violence. It is neither as cute ‘n’ cuddly nor as coarse as you might expect.

Screenwriter Sean Anders and his wife really did adopt three children – no wonder it feels so authentic.

The soundtrack songs perfectly enhance the emotions of the scenes, from the Paul McCartney tune “Let ‘Em In” to Jefferson Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.”

During the credits, you'll see picture after picture of happy adoptive families. Sometimes there are only two people in a picture. Sometimes there are many.

They all radiate love, just like this movie.


Film critic/reporter since 1985 at Quad-City Times. Society of Professional Journalists, Broadcast Film Critics Association and Alliance of Women Film Journalists member. Member of St. Mark Lutheran Church.