“Ideal Home” (2018)
Running Time: 91 minutes
Written by: Andrew Fleming
Directed by: Andrew Fleming
Featuring: Steve Coogan, Paul Rudd, Allison Pill, Jake McDorman, and Jack Gore
Paul:“Wait, you have a grandson?”
This has been such a very good year for comedies that there is always the risk of taking them for granted which after a terrible 2017 for the genre audiences should never do. This trend seems destined to continue with the release of yet another, this time a semi-high concept movie in the form of “Ideal Home” (2018) which sees the teaming up of English comedian Steve Coogan and the always fantastic American actor Paul Rudd as a gay couple living in Arizona. This is primarily a movie about a gay couple who have to look after a child but it has so much else going on within the narrative that this is only part of the story. What is refreshing about this movie is that it is a character based comedy first, with much of the script given over to that, as well as the plot, which does get reduced to being a message or issue based movie, this is not only refreshing but adds to the humour of the movie with a natural ease not often seen in today’s cinema. This movie takes for granted that the main characters are not only gay but are in a (mostly) stable relationship, they have many friends, as well as work colleagues, that do not bat an eye about their personal lives or their sexual orientation which is again something refreshing, in that it takes a lot of comedic tropes out of the picture to make way for some very real issues as well as some great comedy from the entire cast.
“Ideal Home” is written and directed by veteran Andrew Fleming who is no stranger to mixing drama and comedy to great effect as well as working with fantastic comedians. He is able to harness their talents to create some very individualistic movies, like this, as well as the very underrated “Hamlet 2” (2008) again featuring Steve Coogan. Here Fleming takes what could normally be seen as a pretty standard drama about a potentially orphaned boy, mixes in the fact that he has to stay with his gay Grandfather who is also a television chef and then introduce all the elements that make it a kind of fish out of water story for all involved. The comedy comes in the form of the interactions they all have with each other as well as all the other stakeholders in the child’s life who have to navigate the couple as well as the couple having to test their own relationship, which is kept in the real world apart from the comedy. Do not be fooled though the comedy in this movie is very real and what you would expect from the two leads who are so talented it is easy to take their characterisations for granted.
The movie is based around Erasmus (Coogan) and Paul (Rudd) are a gay couple whose life is turned inside out when a ten-year old boy shows up at their door claiming to be Erasmus’ grandson. Neither Paul, nor Erasmus, are ready to give up their extravagant lifestyles to be parents, but maybe this little kid has thing or two to teach them about the value of family.
The leads of the movie Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd are just great in this comedy that is made all the better by not only their characters but the way in which they have built those characters into three dimensional people who could have either been trope laden or caricatures but aren’t, they are not only a fascinating couple but are hilarious for all the right reasons, not relying on the fact that they are gay but that they are original as well as them dealing with people they would not normally interact with. Both of these actors take their job seriously so that the way in which they behave or react to situations feels so honest that the humour they elicit seems to come from an genuine place and is not forced or ring hollow or false just because they may appear to be over the top or sometimes even being camp. The other main performance is by Jack Gore who plays ‘Bill’ who is for such a young boy excellent and rarely offers a false note in his performance even though he has to deal some very adult themes.
Another aspct of the movie which has to be mentioned is that that both Erasmus (Coogan) and Paul (Rudd) work on a cooking show or a show about cuisine that is based in Arizona, which are all very original as well as offering the audience a world that is rarely seen, it also illustrates the importance of food and becomes the starting point for an ongoing joke about the food Bill will eat. In fact much of the humour with the movie derives from food as well as its place within the home, the fact that the surroundings of the environment directly relate to food and the juxtaposition of how gourmet food can directly effect mass produced food which we see within the movie and how this can either split people or unite them which again is as original as can be particularly in a comedy.
“Ideal Home” is all about the family unit and how this has changed, where it is now and possibly where it is headed, nothing is ‘normal’ or whatever that means but what we see throughout the movie is how different cultures, family types and people can influence others as well as how the acceptance of difference can lead to some truly special experiences and relationships. Even though there are very different people within the narrative of this movie as with many familial comedies or dramas you know instinctively that all will be well in the end, but in terms of the story it is not about the main characters being gay but the fact that the real father comes back to take his son away which does seem like a trope but where the movie ends up seems natural and not forced like so many other familiar themed movies which is a extremely refreshing.
This is a very well made and interesting movie that touches on many elements as well as themes and I can recommend it as a very funny enjoyable watch with two charismatic and funny leading men who lend the movie some authenticity as well as light heartedness that touches on some very serious issues, a fun viewing for all.