Film Reviews: Instant, sweet and touching comedy drama

INSTANT FAMILY (12A)

Tuesday, 12th February 2019, 13:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th February 2019, 14:38 pm
Undated film still handout from Instant Family. Pictured: Octavia Spencer as Karen, Rose Byrne as Ellie Wagner, Tig Notaro as Sharon and Mark Wahlberg as Pete Wagner. See PA Feature SHOWBIZ Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Paramount Pictures/Hopper Stone/SMPSP. All Rights Reserved. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature SHOWBIZ Film Reviews.

Inspired by the experiences of writer-director Sean Anders, Instant Family is a surprisingly sweet and touching comedy drama about foster parenting, which delivers its core messages of patience and self-sacrifice with sincerity and tear-filled eyes.

The opening hour of Anders' picture, co-written by John Morris, mines a steady supply of chuckles from the misadventures of a happily married couple, who welcome three troubled tykes into their ordered home. The director's light touch and occasional splashes of syrupy sentiment give way to hard knocks in a poignant second half that promises to exhaust every handkerchief you have tucked in a pocket or sleeve. Rose Byrne and Mark Wahlberg possess a winning combination of cluelessness and caring as first-time parents, and the latter wrings genuine tears from his scenes with gifted young co-stars. A family isn't defined by the blood flowing through its veins but by words and deeds, and in this respect, Anders' picture proudly wears its heart on its sleeve.

THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING (PG)

The legend of King Arthur has been inspiring mediocrity on the big screen for decades.

Alas, writer-director Joe Cornish's family-friendly spin on the sword in the stone continues the dispiriting trend, messily combining medieval magic with present-day growing pains for a quartet of underwritten adolescent protagonists.

Action set-pieces lack variety and eye-popping thrills, repeatedly pitting schoolchildren against flaming-eyed skeletal warriors on horseback, who are easily stopped with a swift blow from a sword to decaying bones. The Kid Who Would Be King maintains a sluggish pace as the cast collectively bears the burden of leaden dialogue. Humour is skewed towards the youngest members of the audience, who might giggle with glee at comic buttock nudity or thrill to scenes of kids wielding traffic signs as shields. But not at Camelot.