'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…

Bully Movie is Worth Finding

Credit: The Weinstein Co.

According to Lee Hirsch, director of the new documentary “Bully,” over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year. While that number is staggering, we all know that bullying has been around since Cain and Abel. However, how a victim responds to the abuse is different. More and more teens are committing suicide because of a combination of bullying of peers and misunderstanding of adults.

“Bully is a deeply personal film for me,” says Hirsch. “I was bullied throughout middle school and much of my childhood. In many ways, those experiences and struggles helped shape my world view and the types of films I’ve endeavored to make. I firmly believe that there is a need for an honest, gutsy film which gives voice “Bully” has made headlines in the last few months labeling the film “controversial,” but not for the reasons you might think. The MPAA gave “Bully” a rating of “R” due mostly to one short scene where one teen utters a string of expletives at another teen. The rest of the film is actually quite tame.  By granting the film this rating, it prevented much of its intended audience to see the movie. Fortunately, after a brief editing, the film has a new rating of PG-13.

“Bully” is not a fun film to watch whether you are a child or a parent but it is an important film to share with your kids. The documentary tells a number of personal stories told from different points of view. Hirsch does a good job of letting the viewer see things through the victim’s eyes. We get a glimpse of the well-meaning parents and teachers, who inadvertently, make the situation even tougher for the abused kids.

In the screening I attended, the audience was quite vocal during parts of the film where clueless adults tried to “poo poo” the situation falling on lame excuses like, “boys will be boys” and “it’s not so bad.” Those who have been there know the truth. If nothing else, this film exposes the need for parents to understand what their kids potentially face each day in the neighborhood, at the bus stop, during English class and the bus ride home. The film also shows mistakes we parents can easily make when talking to our children about such events. In the end though, it creates much fodder for you a lively discussion with your teen on the way home on whether or not they are being bullied, if they do any bullying themselves and how to stop a bully from harming a fellow student.

As Christians, we are to be light in the world of darkness. Imagine how much better our schools could be if our own children helped to fight off bullies and learned to love the unappreciated.

“Bully” is being shown throughout the country, but it is limited to just a few locations. It is worth seeking out.

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