I was in two minds about watching this movie because I thought that it was going to be another one of those typical corny comedies, with Mark Wahlberg trying to be funny, but I actually enjoyed it, from the fostering point of view. The emotional scenes were quite touching, and it was good to have an insight into the whole fostering process, even though it wasn't as deep as it could have been. The chemistry between Karen (Octavia Spencer) and Sharon (Tig Notaro) was brilliant, and the kids, Lizzy (Isabela Merced), Juan (Gustavo Escobar) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz), all put in a good performance, but Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) acted the same as they have done in other movies. The storyline was based on a true story, so I found it quite interesting throughout, but I doubt that the true parents were so naive. To take on 3 children at once must have been a daunting experience, which is why their whole bonding journey was entertaining. I would like to see this concept from a serious point of view because it's a subject that needs addressing in this day and age. Anyway, the film is about a married couple called Pete & Ellie Wagner, who are taunted by relatives who think they will never have children, so they consider adoption. They enrol in Foster Care, led by social workers Karen and Sharon. At a fair to meet foster children, Ellie voices her reluctance to adopt a teen and is confronted by 15-year-old Lizzy, who impresses Pete and Ellie. Karen and Sharon reveal that Lizzy has two siblings, 10-year-old Juan and 6-year-old Lita, and their mother is a drug addict currently in prison. The Wagners meeting with Lizzy and her siblings does not result in an immediate "cosmic connection", leading them to reconsider. At Thanksgiving dinner with Ellie's family, Pete and Ellie explain they have decided not to adopt. The family admits that no one really believed they should adopt, which spurs Ellie to go through with fostering the siblings. Lizzy, Juan and Lita move in with the Wagners, whose lives become hectic. Lita refuses to eat anything but potato chips, Juan is overly emotional, and Lizzy resents Ellie's attempts to parent her. The Wagners turn to a support group of their fellow foster parents. Pete's mother Sandy wins the siblings over by taking them to Six Flags, but Lizzy disappears with friends and returns late, prompting Pete to ground her. When Pete and Ellie confront Lizzy as she leaves the house, Juan accidentally shoots a nail into his foot. Seeing Pete and Ellie rush Juan to the hospital and comfort, Lita, Lizzy begins to warm to them, and Pete invites her to vent her frustrations by demolishing a house he is renovating. Lita calls Pete "daddy" after he fixes her doll, and Juan tells Ellie "Good night, mommy" when she comforts him after a nightmare. Pete and Ellie meet Carla, the sibling's mother, who has been released from prison and wants to reunite with her children. The Wagners express their feelings to the support group, but the social workers explain the system's main goal is to keep families together, and the children might return to their biological mother. Carla's meetings with her children disrupt the Wagner household. The children become more unruly, leaving Pete and Ellie demotivated and frustrated. They are horrified to discover Lizzy taking naked pictures of herself to send to someone at school named Jacob, who sends her a naked photo of himself. Whilst taking the children to school the next day, Pete and Ellie confront a student named Charlie, mistaking him for Jacob. Discovering Jacob is actually the school's 22-year-old janitor, they beat him up and he is arrested, as are Pete and Ellie, leaving Juan and Lita in the car. Returning home after posting bail, Pete and Ellie are told by Sandy that they need to reassure Lizzy that they love her. At the children's court hearing, the judge reads a statement from Lizzy, detailing Pete and Ellie's actions in a negative light. He refuses to let Ellie read her own statement, and the children are returned to Carla's care. Juan and Lita do not want to leave the Wagners, but Lizzy is ready. Will Carla finally get her kids back, or will the Wagners keep the family that they have always wanted? I'm sure there are different aspects of the storyline that many people can relate to, which is why I think that it needed actors with a wider range, playing the lead. With that aside, it's still worth a watch because I can't remember a movie that touches on this subject matter. Although it didn't smash the box office, it still went down well with critics, and I personally found it a fun watch. Enjoyable!
This movie was written and directed by Sean Anders, who also brought you Never Been Thawed in 2005, Sex Drive, That's My Boy, Horrible Bosses 2 and Daddy's Home 1 & 2. Judging by his previous projects, he's obviously known for his comedic work, but this film was close to his heart, as it is based on his experience, fostering 3 children with his wife. As he has worked with Mark Wahlberg before, and Mark Wahlberg starred alongside Isabela Merced in Transformers: The Last Knight, the cast was a no-brainer, but I think that he should have taken a chance with someone else in the lead. It's definitely worth making a sequel, just to see how the family grow throughout the years, but there isn't one planned as of yet.
Worldwide Gross: $120.5million
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Octavia Spencer, Tig Notaro, Tom Segura, Allyn Rachel, Margo Martindale, Julie Hagerty, Michael O'Keefe, Joan Cusack, Gary Weeks and Andrea Anders. 6/10
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