Don’t let the reviews fool you.
Synopsis: When Pete and Ellie decide to start a family, they stumble into the world of foster care adoption. They hope to take in one small child, but when they meet three siblings, including a rebellious 15-year-old girl, they find themselves speeding from zero to three kids overnight. Now, Pete and Ellie must try to learn the ropes of instant parenthood in the hope of becoming a family. (Rovi)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, and Octavia Spencer
Writers: Sean Anders and John Morris
Director: Sean Anders
Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 119mins
For whatever reason, this film has received mostly positive reviews but after watching it, it is baffling as to why that would be the case (maybe they watched a different film?). As for most films, both the trailers and the title to a certain degree pretty much give the premise of the film away. However, that was not the whole story. While it may get some viewers to the theatre, the film isn’t quite what the promotional material made it out to be. While it may be well-intentioned, it unfortunately came off as tone deaf when it comes to the important issue of adoption.
The story was about a married couple named Pete (Wahlberg) and Ellie (Byrne). Feeling a hole in their lives, they found themselves in the world of foster care adoption. The eventually found themselves with a trio of siblings including a teen girl named Lizzy (Isabela Moner) and her two younger siblings Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz). The comically naïve and over-their-head parents only agreed to take in the kids out of spite. In fact, kids were merely props by the adults for their own selfish gain and the film would often make jokes at their expense (with one that will make you pound your head against a wall). As a whole, the film wasn’t funny whatsoever but rather mean-spirited.
The family aspect was so contrived and manufactured that nothing ever rung true. At no point did Pete and Ellie ever care about their children but rather they tried to get their children to like them so they can prove to their doubters that they were good parents. In order to get to the predictable end, the story put the family in a series of contrived, clichéd, and emotionally manipulative situations to prove that the family was growing closer to one another and/or to show that Pete and Ellie were learning to be parents, however, neither ever seemed to be the case. Suffice it to say that the tone was all over the place which only failed to reinforce and only undermines the film’s intended message.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the script was terrible. The dialog was terrible and the direction was mediocre, leading to some truly terrible performances. The worst of those was definitely Wahlberg as Pete. His over-the-top performance was peak cringe as Pete tried way too hard to be a dad thanks to some god-awful dialog. Byrne as Ellie was actually decent as she treaded familiar ground (the Neighbors films) and sort of had an arc. Moner, Quiroz, and Gamiz as Lizzie, Juan, and Lita respectively were all okay despite all being props to stroke Wahlberg and Byrne’s egos. Spencer as Karen, a social worker, didn’t want to be there. Last but certainly not least, one more cameo at the end was just sad.
Overall, this was a contrived and often condescending and mean-spirited dramedy with a clichéd, predictable, and tonal mess of a story full of unlikable characters that only does the opposite of what it set out to do which was to raise awareness about adoption. It’s not funny or touching and the family moments are too fake and manufactured to care though some clearly think otherwise hence the decent reviews. SMH.