Instant Family (2018)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Sean Anders
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Octavia Spencer, Tig Notaro, Isabela Moner, Margo Martindale
Duration: 117 minutes
KRS Releasing Ltd
Based on director Sean Anders’ personal experiences with the foster-care system, Instant Family is a heart-warming tale of two parents’ mission to start their own family.
Inspired by the smiling faces on an adoption website, hard-working home renovators Peter (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne), have put having children of their own on hold and facing doubts about their potential for parenthood from their families, decide to foray into adoption. Impressed by Lisa (Isabela Moner), a smart but moody teen, Peter and Ellie decide to take the plunge with her. Lisa brings with her two younger siblings, Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz) and the newly formed family of five begin a ‘trial period’ together, discovering the ups and downs of family life along the way.
Critics and audiences alike responded positively to the film, with many finding favour with the film’s well-meaning themes.
“It redefines family craziness as normal in a way that those who seek it out will gratefully relate to,” writes Owen Gleiberman for Variety.
“The movie plays off specific pitfalls of foster care but it’s also a universal riff on what insanely difficult creatures children can truly be. They are, after all, little human beings.” Mike McCahill, writing for The Guardian, takes a similar, albeit more critical approach. “It doesn’t look like much more than four episodes of a network sitcom bolted together.”
“Yet if it can’t entirely banish the spectre of 12A-rated blandness from its doorstep, Instant Family retains the obvious appeal of watching basically nice people attempt a fundamentally decent thing for a few hours.”
“It is somehow both utterly heartfelt and utterly shameless,” says Bilge Ebiri of Vulture.
“What makes Instant Family such a dissonant experience, however, is the awkward, blunt way that it mixes broad, shticky humour with earnest drama.”
“It stirs up powerful emotions, to be sure, but the movie sometimes seems afraid of what it wants to be.”
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Empire: 3 stars
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)
Genre: Action, Drama
Director: Mike Mitchell
Voices of: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Alison Brie
Duration: 90 minutes
KRS Releasing Ltd
Hot on the heels of 2014’s surprise hit The Lego Movie, the self-titled Second Part transports us back to the bright plastic land fuelled by play and imagination.
Five years after the events of the first film, we pick up where we left off in Bricksburg, now transformed into a post-apocalyptic wasteland named Apocalypseburg.
Emmet (Chris Pratt) and Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) do their best to adapt and keep their spirits up but when General Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) and Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) threaten to further disrupt the lives of the embattled bricks, playtime is about to take a few unpredictable turns.
The film seems to have left critics and audiences alike enamoured once again.
“Few things take the bloom off an original concept like a sequel,” writes Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers. “But Lego 2 has an irresistible knack for throwing things at the screen with a wild abandon.”
“Lego 2 never stops, which is part of the problem. Can there really be too much of a good thing? [Pause.] Nah.”
“It’s not quite the lightning in a bottle that its predecessor was,” says Betsy Bozdech of Common Sense Media, “but this entertaining sequel is still definitely better than the average kids’ movie.”
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Empire: 4 stars
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