Sean Anders knows how to make a family comedy an absolute success. With films like We’re the Millers, Daddy’s Home, and Daddy’s Home 2 under his belt, he understands that in order to make movies like these memorable, a perfect balance of sharp, original writing and creative humor needs to be present in order to keep the audience engaged.
Anders nails that in his sweet, touching new movie Instant Family, which follows Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) and their struggles adapting to their three adopted children. Among other topics, Anders explores the ins and outs of raising various different ages of children without the self-proclaimed troubles of the dreaded infant and toddler years throughout the film.
What makes the film even more special is the fact it’s based almost entirely on Anders and his wife’s experience with their own adopted children. But how does a mildly bawdy comedy writer transition from a film like Sex Drive into crafting this love letter to his kids? And what other kinds of projects is he taking on that revolves around this central theme of family?
We discuss all that and more in our discussion with Anders, which picks up below:
How did the dynamic of creating a movie inspired by your own life work?
Well, it’s not only inspired by my family and my experience but also the experiences of a lot of other families that I’ve met along the way, so I never felt like Mark Wahlberg was playing me and I never felt like this was my life on the screen and that made it easier. We’re telling a fictional story that was inspired by my life.
But, on the other hand, virtually every emotion that they go through along the way, as well as several specific situations, were taken directly from my life. It was very emotional and kind of embarrassing because I would be behind the monitors just completely in tears.
Could you talk a little about the scene near the beginning of the film when we see the faces and the ages of the kids up for adoption on the screen?
That’s a very real moment because my story started the exact same way the family’s does in the movie. I made the joke that Mark Wahlberg makes in the movie and my wife thought it was kind of interesting and then we wound up looking at a website and you see the real faces of real kids. In that scene, when you see those pictures, those are pictures of real kids that were adopted from foster care, including my own.
How much of Pete and Ellie’s struggles relate to you and your wife’s experiences as a couple going through the process of adopting?
Almost all of it! It was tricky. Like I said before, there’s that transitional time that’s really hard and it can turn you against each other and it can just wear your patience thin and it makes you really question the choices that you’ve made. But then, once it starts to change and once the family starts to really fall in love with one another, it all becomes worth it. That stuff is all very real.
What is it about family that interests you so much as a filmmaker?
It’s just the most basic thing in the world. My writing partner John Morris and I both have families—he has two kids, I have three kids—and being dads is just such a huge part of our lives. I also think my own family that I come from has always influenced me, even going back to the Adam Sandler movie That’s My Boy that I did. When we got involved with that, the thing that appealed to me was the father-son story, which is something I really wanted to do. There’s some element of family in almost everything that we do and there probably always will be.
Do you plan on tackling any other genres of film in the near future?
We’re producing a horror movie right now that we’re hoping is going to start production soon. We’ve also been working on a thriller that is almost like one of those 90s thrillers and it’s something that we’ve been talking about for a while and I’ve been wanting to do a big adventure movie for a long time. We’re looking to branch out into a lot of different areas.
How do you think your experiences as a comedic filmmaker will influence your work on something like a thriller?
I think that there will be an element of humor to everything that I will ever probably do. There’s an element of humor in every aspect of my life. It’s interesting because we’ve done a lot of big, physical comedy—a lot of broad, crazy things—and I think a lot of people tend to write that stuff off as just silliness or whatever. But it’s actually really fun to construct a big, physical comedic set piece and I think of it as kind of like a fight scene from a kung-fu movie because it has to have a premise and it has to build from a place and it has to lead to some kind of a punchline and it usually has a twist in it and you’re incorporating visual effects and special effects. Putting all of that stuff together is really fun. I believe that doing some more serious action or adventure movies would incorporate a lot of the same building blocks.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
New photo teases Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys in Marielle Heller’s Mister Rogers biopic
Tristar Pictures has released a new image from A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the upcoming Mister Rogers biopic starring Tom Hanks in the role of the beloved children’s television show host. The film comes courtesy of Can You Ever Forgive Me? director Marielle Heller.
Per the film’s official synopsis, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is “a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod,” who you may have seen featured in the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? last year.
Written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, the story begins when a jaded magazine writer (Matthew Rhys) accepts an assignment to write a profile piece on Mister Rogers, following him as he overcomes his skepticism about Rogers and learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America’s most beloved neighbor in the process.
Marc Turtletaub, Peter Saraf, and Youree Henley are producing the film, which also stars Chris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson, Enrico Colatoni, Maryann Plunkett, Tammy Blanchard, Wendy Makkena, Sakina Jaffrey, Carmen Cusack, Noah Harpster, and Maddie Corman.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood will open in theaters just in time for awards season on November 22, 2019.
You can check out the newly released image above.
Amid an intense wave of backlash, the Academy has decided to air all Oscar categories live
In the wake of an intense wave of backlash, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Friday that they will be reversing their controversial decision to present four technical categories their awards during commercial breaks at the 91st Oscars ceremony next Sunday.
“The Academy has heard the feedback from its membership regarding the Oscar presentation of four awards – Cinematography, Film Editing, Live Action Short, and Makeup and Hairstyling,” the AMPAS board of governors said in a statement. “All Academy Awards will be presented without edits, in our traditional format.”
Sources familiar with the matter tell Silver Screen Beat that the Academy’s change of heart came after AMPAS president John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson met with members of the group’s cinematography branch Thursday evening to discuss the decision, which did not go over well with many Hollywood filmmakers and craftspeople.
“Relegating these essential cinematic crafts to lesser status in this 91st Academy Awards ceremony is nothing less than an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession,” read an open letter to the Academy signed by dozens of industry figures, including directors Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee and cinematographers Roger Deakins and Rachel Morrison.
The letter ends with a quote from Academy member Seth Rogen, who tweeted earlier this week, “What better way to celebrate achievements in film than to NOT publicly honour the people whose job it is to film things.”
The 91st Oscars will air live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 24 on ABC.
‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ officially wraps principal photography with an emotional cast photo
Star Wars: Episode IX director J.J. Abrams announced today via Twitter that the highly anticipated final chapter in the Skywalker saga has officially wrapped principal photography, leading us to believe that our first look at the film could be just around the corner.
“It feels impossible, but today wrapped photography on Episode IX. There is no adequate way to thank this truly magical crew and cast. I’m forever indebted to you all,” Abrams wrote in his tweet this afternoon.
Abrams’ tweet also includes an emotional set photo featuring cast members Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, John Boyega, who plays Finn, and Oscar Isaac, who plays Poe Dameron, embracing on their final day of shooting.
“That’s a wrap on Star Wars episode 9 and the end to a chapter of my life that I couldn’t be more thankful for,” Boyega wrote in a tweet of is own. “What a process! It really has been a joy to be in these movies surrounded by amazing people. JJ, thank you for making my dreams come true.”
Abrams, who launched a new era of Star Wars with The Force Awakens in 2015, will now take Episode IX to the editing bay, where it will remain in post-production for the next 10 months or so until its December 20 release date.
You can check out the tweets from Abrams and Boyega below.
It feels impossible, but today wrapped photography on Episode IX. There is no adequate way to thank this truly magical crew and cast. I’m forever indebted to you all. pic.twitter.com/138AprtFuZ
— JJ Abrams (@jjabrams) February 15, 2019
That’s a wrap on Star Wars episode 9 and the end to a chapter of my life that I couldn’t be more thankful for. What a process! It really has been a joy to be in these movies surrounded by amazing people. JJ thank you for making my dreams come true. pic.twitter.com/8b83vQKKDc
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) February 15, 2019