The two actors have teamed up for the new movie from director Sean Anders (Daddy’s Home) as a married couple exploring the possibility of adopting foster children. The film goes through the processes with the kind of specificity and rigor you wouldn’t necessarily expect of a big studio comedy. And there’s a reason for that: The film’s events are based on the life story of Anders and his wife, Beth, who together took in three siblings in 2012.
“When my wife and I got involved in foster care to adopt when we first were taking the classes in such, we were really surprised that we didn’t know anything about it — from movies or from TV,” Anders tells EW. “The actual process of it was a complete mystery to us. We thought there was a chance that when we went to the orientation that we’d go there and they would start showing us pictures of kids and they would want us to adopt kids within a week or something.” (Needless to say, that wasn’t the case.)
It’s that experience which convinced Anders, together with co-writer John Morris, to put it on the screen with a mix of humor and heartfelt family drama, treating the sensitive subject with respect while also finding the humor in it. The film reunites Wahlberg with his Daddy’s Home director, and marks Byrne’s next role in a Hollywood comedy, coming off of critically-acclaimed turns in Spy and the Neighbors franchise. Tig Notaro and Octavia Spencer co-star as the dynamic duo who guide the parents-to-be through the foster care process, while Margo Martindale also appears as the overbearing but goodhearted mother of Wahlberg’s character.
EW has obtained an exclusive first-look photo of Instant Family (above), which shows Byrne and Wahlberg arriving at the “adoption picnic” where they’ll eventually meet their new foster children. Allow Anders to explain: “The adoption picnic that my wife and I went to was one of the craziest things I’ve ever been to in my life,” he cracks. “You just don’t know how to engage in this situation … We’re not supposed to go up to kids who we don’t know and talk to them! The fact that they even have these events is so weird. It was a very uncomfortable event to attend, but at the same time, it was really good for us, because it was one of the first times where we could look around and just see all these kids.”
See the first-look Instant Family photo above. The film hits theaters on Nov. 16.