'Instant Family' Will Pull Your Heartstrings in a Good Way

What started as an older man’s joke about wanting to adopt a five-year-old instead of starting from scratch, Instant Family was inspired by writer and director Sean Anders’ real-life family. Pete (Mark Wahlberg) “accidentally” makes the joke to his wife Ellie (Rose Byrne) not wanting to be become that “old dad” everyone knows and before you know it, the two are traveling down to road toward foster care adoptions. After numerous classes taught by two caseworkers (Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro), the two meet three kids at a “foster fair” gathering. Lizzy (Isabela Moner) is the 15-year-old older sister who has protectively looked after her younger siblings Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz) while their mother has been incarcerated. She’s a tough cookie with trust issues. Juan is both accident prone and highly sensitive and Lita is super sweet as long as she gets to eat potato chips at every meal. Almost overnight they become an “instant family” and everything g…

Don't Jump! Man on a Ledge is Not That Bad!

A man is standing on the ledge of a New York hotel building. He is taking short breaths and sweating profusely. He looks down. There is a crowd forming all staring at him. Some are encouraging him to jump. Who is this man? A criminal? A cop? No, he’s a movie reviewer.

Okay, okay – “Man on a Ledge” isn’t that bad. In fact, it’s pretty enjoyable. The cast is very likeable and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. However, it’s all cliché and pretty forgettable after you leave the theater.

Sam Worthington has had his share of working in different surroundings. He was turned into a humanoid to battle creatures on Pandora, battled giant Transformers and now faces a fear of heights. Worthington plays Nick Cassidy, an ex-cop and fugitive, “on a ledge” of a Manhattan Hotel threatening to leap to his death. While we don’t learn exactly why he put himself out on the ledge immediately, we do know that it is more than depression that is motivating him. Once Cassidy asks to talk to a certain police psychologist by name, we know something is up. Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) is the lucky one who gets to try to talk him down. She’s not excited for the job. She failed her last mission of a similar situation where the guy successfully jumped.

Meanwhile, Nick’s brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez with her cleavage almost upstaging her acting) are busily trying to prove that Nick is innocent of the crime that put him in prison to begin with.

The film is filled with stereotypes. In addition to the above, Ed Harris spends a good deal of angry acting as the antagonist and Kyra Sedgewick plays an annoying, one note television reporter looking for a good story. And wait, is that a spark I see between the cop and ex-cop?

This is one of those movies where the less you know ahead of time, the better your viewing experience will be. But even as you watch the film, they tell you more than you need to know. Within ten minutes, we know why Nick is out in the cold when it would have been more interesting if the filmmakers had left this a mystery until further into the story. each new wrinkle of the story unfolds, the story becomes less believable and more predictable. For a thriller, it’s not that thrilling.

“Man on a Ledge” is sort of a rookie production. This is Asger Leth’s only second film at directing. His first, Ghosts of Cité Soleil, was a documentary. This is also Pablo F. Fenjves first stab at writing a major motion picture. All of his previous work has been made-for-TV movies. It’s odd that while the movie proudly announces that it is “from the team that brought you “Transformers” and “Red,” neither of these two worked on those two films.

Still, the casting is excellent and the story moves at a pretty good clip making it quite enjoyable. There are certainly worse ways you can spend your time, but you might want to save some bucks and watch it when it comes out on DVD.

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