'Ideal Home': Film Review

The two leads look like they're having a blast, and so will you.
6/29/2018

Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd play a gay couple who suddenly find themselves caring for a 10-year-old boy in Andrew Fleming's comedy.

There may be no more adorable onscreen duo today than Erasmus and Paul, the perpetually bickering gay couple around whom the new comedy by Andrew Fleming (The Craft, Dick) revolves. Played to hilarious effect by Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd, these wildly entertaining characters bring Ideal Home to vibrant life despite the film's familiar plot aspects.

Coogan, who previously worked with the writer/director on the terrific Hamlet 2, plays the deliciously named Erasmus Brumble, the pompous star of a Santa Fe cable television food show directed by his longtime partner Paul (Rudd). As the story begins it's made clear that the relationship between the two men has seen better days, as evidenced by Paul's response to a crew member who asks him why he stays with someone who irritates him so much.

"Part of me wants to stick around just to watch him die," Paul says, not entirely kidding. He also observes about his partner that "he's like Butch Cassidy, except not butch."

Erasmus and Paul's comfortable life in an expansive ranch house becomes disrupted by the unexpected arrival of Angel (Jack Gore), Erasmus' 10-year-old grandson he didn't know he had. Angel's widowed father Beau (Jake McDorman), the estranged offspring from an "experiment" with a woman that Erasmus had many years earlier, has been arrested for drug dealing. So the boy must either stay with his grandfather or enter foster care.  

The ensuing struggles of the two men to adjust to pseudo-fatherhood strikes more than a few predictable narrative beats, including the arrival of a social worker (Alison Pill) to investigate the situation. But it's hard to remember a similar scenario to the couple's blasé reaction to her discovery of their extensive porn collection or, when, during a meeting with Angel's's teacher, Erasmus mistakes the word "Felting" on a banner for "Felching." There's also a riotous scene featuring the two men in mid-coitus in which the shouted-out title Dances With Wolves becomes a drolly funny punchline.

It won't be hard for viewers to guess that Erasmus and Paul will find themselves transformed by their newfound parental responsibilities or that their relationship will become stronger as a result. The fun stems mainly from the amusing interactions between the two main characters so deliciously played by Coogan and Rudd. Both actors are at peak form here, with Coogan clearly having a blast as the flamboyant Erasmus and Rudd employing his expert deadpan delivery and gift for comic timing as the slow-burning Paul. They make the central relationship feel entirely believable, with the result that we truly come to care about whether the two men stay together. They also have excellent chemistry with their pint-sized co-star, who manages to steal more than a few scenes.

Ideal Home suffers from a few missteps, including a running gag about Taco Bell that feels more like blatant product placement than narrative necessity. And there will no doubt be some viewers who feel that the principal characters border on stereotypes. But they would be missing the fun of this good-hearted film whose positive message about same-sex parenting is emphasized in the end credits sequence featuring photos of numerous real-life examples.

Production companies: Remstar Studios, Lucky Monkey Pictures, Raygun/Baby Cow, Fortitude International
Distributor: Brainstorm Media
Cast: Steve Coogan, Paul Rudd, Jack Gore, Jake McDorman, Alison Pill
Director-screenwriter: Andrew Fleming
Producers: Maria Teresa Arida, Lucia Seabra, Gabrielle Tana, Aaron Ryder, Clark Peterson, Maxime Remillard
Executive producers: Steve Coogan, Lisa Wolofsky
Director of photography: Alexander Gruszynski
Production designer: Anthony Fanning
Editors: Jeffrey M. Werner, Byron Wong
Composers: Martin Simpson, John Swihart
Costume designer: Judith R. Gellman
Casting: Pam Dixon

91 minutes