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 …

'Tag' is Fun, but Could Be Funner

Movie Review of "Tag"
Jake Johnson, Ed Helms and Jon Hamm in Tag (New Line Cinema).


The concept of making a movie about five adult men playing an extreme game of Tag sounds mildly amusing until you find out that this fictional story is based on fact. Then it sounds a whole lot better. New Line Cinema’s comedy film Tag is actually based on a true story and The Wall StreetJournal article titled, “It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being It,” by Russell Adams. However, two of the real “taggers” were in attendance for the screening that I attended who explained that the finished product is rather loosely based on their real-life events. The real group consists of ten men while in Tag there are only five. The Wall Street Journal story was not written by a woman and probably wasn’t along for the adventure as she does in the movie. In fact, it is probably safe to say that most of movie is made up but inspired by real events that are shown in the form of home movies during the film’s credits.

Movie Review of Tag
Steve Berg, Jake Johnson, Ed Helms, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm and Annabelle Wallis. (New Line Cinema)
Directed by Jeff Tomsic, Tag’s ensemble cast is led by Ed Helms who plays Hogan Malloy who rounds up his friends for possibly the group’s last time of playing the game. It seems that Jerry Pierce (Jeremy Renner), who is not only the reigning champ, but has never been tagged, is getting married and wants to bow out. Hogan tracks down big company CEO Bob Callahan (Jon Hamm) who is busy conducting an interview with WSJ reporter Rebecca Crosby (Annabelle Wallis) to tell him the news and the two are on their way to find the others. Not wanting to miss the scoop on this story, Rebecca “tags” along. With the help of Hogan’s wife Anna (Isla Fisher), the pair track down pothead Randy “Chilli” Chilliano (Jake Johnson) and Reggie (Lil Rel Howery) who is in therapy in hopes of tagging the elusive Jerry.  Jerry’s bride-to-be, Susan (Leslie Bibb) is not keen on the idea of a game of tag happening during her wedding and puts her white satin shoe down. New rules are amended to the rules originally written down when the five were school-aged chums and on we go.

Movie Review of "Tag"
The champ (Jeremy Renner) in action. (New Line Cinema)
Tag is based on a fun concept but probably won’t be the funniest film of the summer unless you are really into pratfalls and foul language. Think of The Three Stooges talking about crude sexual antics and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what this movie is all about. It’s all talk though. Some might liken the banter to “locker room talk,” but it’s really pretty crude and wears thin pretty quickly. 

Also starring in Tag is Nora Dunn who plays Hogan’s pizza roll-making mom for her son’s friends, Steve Berg who plays a childhood friend who was never allowed to play Tag with the group and Rashida Jones who plays the former love interest of two of the single players.

Movie Review of "Tag"
Leslie Bibb as Susan the bride. (New Line Cinema)
The stunts are amazing (it is said that Renner broke both his arms during the first day of shooting and they had to be CGI-ed for the finished movie) and the chase scenes are fun to watch, but overall, if the writers had spent more time on better dialogue and character development, this would be a better flick, There is a better story hidden here that could have been told.

If you can get past the course talk, there is an enjoyable story to be found here and a brief message about the importance of male friendship, something that should have been explored a bit more in my opinion. Ironically, it’s the film’s last five minutes or so that really makes the movie and leaves you with a “maybe that was worth seeing after all” feeling.

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