Director Sean Anders Talks About His Own ‘Instant Family’

Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne’s comedy/drama film, Instant Family appears to be an instant hit with both critics and audiences alike. Sure, not everyone is a fan, but I suspect that people don’t actually have kids themselves. Those that do, appreciate all of the chaos and (at times) the corniness that is a part of family life. In the movie, Wahlberg and Byrne play a couple who want to start a family, but sort of feel that they are a bit old to be just starting and find themselves looking into foster care adoption and end up adopting a teen girl and her two younger siblings. Unrealistic you say? Try telling that to Sean Anders who co-wrote the script and directed the movie. He lived it. Well, mostly.

I met Anders last week to talk about Instant Family just before the film opened and my biggest question for him was how much of this film was actually based on real life. “A lot of it,” he said and then went on telling me a story about how his family came to be.

“First of all, my …

‘Splitting Up Together’ is a Terrible Idea, But Ironically Has Heart

Review of "Splitting Up Together"
Oliver Hudson and Jenna Fischer as the two ex love birds in
  Splitting Up Together (ABC)


Over the several years, ABC has brought back the family sitcom with some results better than otherS. The Middle and Modern Family go in the plus category, Trophy Wife and The Real O’Neals go in the other. As dull as it might seem, family sitcoms where the families are intact work better than those that aren’t.

Despite the casting of Jenna Fischer and Oliver Hudson, Splitting Up Together is a terrible idea for new family sitcom. It shouldn’t work and I’m not entirely convinced that it does, but the pilot episode airing tonight isn’t as bad as I suspected. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not brilliant, but it does have some heart to it. ABC says that the show is based on a Danish series about a couple whose marriage is reignited by their divorce, so maybe their’s hope for these two crazy kids?

Here’s the deal: Martin and Lena (Hudson and Fischer) appear to others as a happily married couple with three kids. The truth of the matter is they haven’t had sex in two years, Lena is a bit of a control freak and Martin tends to check out on his duties. The two appear to be pretty good as parents, just not very good as husband and wife. While deciding to call it quits, the couple figure that they can’t afford to actually split up. They make a deal. One week she’ll live in the house while he lives in the garage and then switch the next week. It becomes abundantly clear to everyone (except themselves) that the two still love and need each other, but can’t make things work for some reason. The two start to do some soul searching on why things went sour (this is where the show has some hear and shows some promise) without really trying to make things better (which dashes any hope for these two to the ground). Where the show goes from here is anyone’s guess.

Review of "Splitting Up Together"
(L to R) Jenna Fischer, Van Crosby, Sander Thomas, Olivia Keville and
Oliver Hudson (ABC)
It might sound mean, but the rest of the characters of the show are pretty much useless. The older son, Mason (Van Crosby) is starting to go through puberty and complains to his mother about, ahem, some manly issues he’s having. This leads to some uncomfortable conversations between mother and son. The daughter of the family, Mae (Oliva Keville) is a mean-spirited feminist in the making and poor little Milo (Sander Thomas) pretty much gets ignored. The weird thing about these kids - none of them seem to be all that shaken up that mom and dad are getting a divorce. (Maybe they watched too many episodes of Trophy Wife or The Real O'Neals...)

Diane Farr fares better as Lena’s sister, Maya. The two banter back and forth well and act like real sisters. But Bobby Lee and Lindsay Price don’t add anything to the show as Lena and Martin’s friends. He says that he would be devastated if she divorced him and she says their marriage works because he worships the ground she walks upon. Uh-huh.

Call me crazy, but divorce is hardly the stuff of comedy gold. With the hope that somehow these two will reconcile offers some hope, but then there goes the premise of the show, right? (Now my head hurts.) At least it isn't a reboot of Imaginary Mary.

Spliting Up Together airs on Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.

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