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

MOVIE REVIEW
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…

Alexander’s Bad Day is Good for Everyone Else

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Jennifer Garner, Kerris Dorsey and Ed Oxenbould  (Disney)
Finally, this weekend you can find out for yourself why Steve Carrell is chasing a kangaroo and what that has to do with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, NoGood, Very Bad Day. And it will be a good excuse to go to the theater.

Sometimes when the term “loosely based” is used to describe a movie, it means that the film follows the plot of the original book only to a point. Here, Alexander is extremely loosely based on the book of the same name by Judith Viorst, but in a good way. The 32-page illustrated children’s book has very little dialogue and plot to work with for a full-length movie. “The idea for the film adaptation was to use the story in the book as the first act of the movie,” says producer Lisa Henson. “The second two acts of the film had to be a completely original storyline set during a second day that is even worse than Alexander’s first terrible, horrible, very bad day.” 


Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Steve Carell
The end result is reminiscent to both versions of Disney’s Freaky Friday. Here, Alexander doesn’t feel that anyone in his family understands what it is like to have a bad day and can’t relate to him. On the eve of his birthday, he celebrates at midnight with some ice cream and a candle and accidentally makes a wish.  What follows is crazy hijinks that one expects from a Disney family comedy, but not exactly in the Disney tradition.


Directed by Miguel Arteta, Alexander may be the first Disney movie to utter the word “penis” and to have some literal bathroom humor. In a way, it actually makes this unbelievable tale a little more believable. 


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