'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…

Look Out Pixar – Here Come the Guardians

(Left to right) Sandy, Bunny, North, Tooth and Jack Frost. (Dreamworks)


Peter Ramsey’s list of achievements in directing movies is pretty much hit or miss. He’s worked on such an obscure variety like Tank Girl, Godzilla and Cast Away. Ramsey has just about as many live action titles on his resume as he does animation. The director has worked with DreamWorks Animation for some time now serving as story board artist for Shark Tale and Head of Story for Monsters vs. Aliens. His latest director duties come from his work on Rise of the Guardians and this just might make up for all his previous popes.

Based on the book series by William Joyce, Rise of the Guardians should be seen as a proper warning to Pixar and Disney that they are no longer the masters of storytelling and animation. This masterpiece is beautiful to look at. Every scene is beautifully animated, almost to the point of distraction from the plot of the story. The plot itself is more complex than most children’s movies and gives a demonstration of faith. The story is unpredictable and fun. The characters are voiced by some of Hollywood’s best vocal talent. While it may not be for everyone, it sure tries to appeal to all audiences.

Basically, Guardians is a story of mythical characters that come to the aid of children whenever necessary. These characters include the man on the moon, Jack Frost, Santa Clause, The Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and the Sandman. While not actually a “Christmas” movie, (the storyline is set closer to Easter) it feels like one.

Jack Frost (Voiced by Chris Pine) introduces himself at the beginning of the cartoon as someone who doesn’t know about his past. He was summoned by the moon to become Jack Frost and 300 years later, was recruited to join the Guardians. He meets North (Alec Baldwin), a different version of the traditional Santa Claus. This one is Russian and has his arms tattooed with the words “naughty’ and “nice.” His appearance may surprise some parents as it is obvious that he is not the same jolly old elf we’ve seen in other productions. He is a refreshingly different Santa who is strong, tends to say “ha ha” instead of “ho ho ho” and is genuinely caring and loving. We also learn about a few myths about the North Pole.

Jack has been called to help defeat Pitch Black (Jude Law), also known as the Boogey Man. He has something in common with Jack: they both struggle that fact that children do not believe in them and therefore cannot see them. Pitch is bent on creating havoc to by creating fear which would cause the children to doubt that Santa and friends exist. If they don’t believe, the guardians don’t live.

Rounding out the cast of characters are Tooth (Isla Fisher) who looks more bird-like than a fairy, Bunny (Hugh Jackman), an oversized rabbit from Australia and Sandy the Sandman, who has no voice at all. He speaks by creating pictures out of sand. He is the polar opposite of Pitch who would rather spread nightmares than good quality sleep.

“Guardians” exposes the human condition – the need to be known by others, the need to know why we were created, and what it means to have faith. The moon can be seen as a representation of God and Pitch as Satan. Jack wants answers and gets mad at the moon for not telling him. In this story, every guardian was a normal human being before they were chosen to serve. For Christians, this could be seen as an allegory to what our lives were like before and after we were saved. Pretty heavy stuff for a kid’s flick.

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