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‘Instant Family’ inspired by director’s sibling adoption
by Olivia Vanni
Sean Anders is getting real about the premise of his upcoming movie “Instant Family.” But the director — whose own experience adopting a set of siblings through the foster care system inspired the comedy — wants everyone to know that it can still be a laughing matter.
“Everything leads back to this one thing: That you have these new people in your house and you don’t love them, and they don’t love you,” Anders told the Track. “You barely know them, but you’re supposed to carry on like you’re a family.”
“You’re supposed to act like their parents, they’re supposed to act like your kids,” he continued. “It’s a very awkward, chaotic, frustrating, difficult transition for anybody to make. And fortunately, all of that lends itself pretty well to comedy, even though it’s a story born out of tragedy. But when you persevere through all that, you get this amazing experience that other people don’t get to have: You get to fall in love with your children.”
Anders and his wife, Beth, officially adopted their children — ages 13, nine and eight — in 2013. While he claims their clan has become “boring” and adjusted over time, he also said they had to overcome some preliminary obstacles to reach the point of a fully functional family.
“The thing that’s so difficult for the kids that come out of the system is that, if they’re in the system to begin with, that generally means they’ve been failed by so many adults in their lives,” Anders said.
“So when new adults come in and say, ‘Hey, we’d like to be your mom and dad, and we want to love you,’ the kids are like, ‘Uh yeah, no thanks.’ They’ve been there before. Very understandably, they’ll push back, they’ll test you and they’ll not believe that your intentions are good because of their past experiences.”
The movie, which hits theaters Nov. 16, follows a couple played by Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrnewho, like Anders and his wife, take in three older foster children and are thrown into the throes of parenthood. And while the underlying aspects of the plot are plenty serious, Anders, the man who lived it, wants audiences to know that it’s very much a comedy.
“People keep talking about what a difference that this can make to kids out there, and I agree — I’m very excited about that,” he said. “But I think, too, it’s also just a fun, funny movie to go see at the multiplex. I don’t want to give too much of a sense to people that the movie is a public service announcement, and it really isn’t.”