IDEAL HOME

★★★★

SWEETNESS AND SPICE IN A CROWD-PLEASING COMBINATION

MELBOURNE QUEER FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Charlie David Page
26th March 2018

If you look back on the (largely phenomenal) LGBTIQ+ films of the past 24 months, you’ll see a distinctive trend: they are all dramas. The concept of a quality queer comedy has never been particularly prominent, with only a few examples like ‘The Birdcage’ or 'My Beautiful Laundrette'. However, one film, ‘Ideal Home’, hopes to mosey into this unfamiliar territory, without entirely disposing of the drama element.

Erasmus Brumble (Steve Coogan, 'Philomena', 'The Trip' series, TV's 'Alan Partridge') is a British culinary TV show host, and Paul (Paul Rudd, 'Ant-Man', 'This Is 40', 'I Love You, Man') produces the show. They fight constantly like cats and dogs about everything - but that’s also because they’re in a long-term relationship, and Erasmus can be a bit of a handful at times. Their extravagant home in New Mexico is the location for lavish, cocaine- and alcohol-fuelled dinner parties - that is, until a young boy (Jack Gore, TV's 'Billions' and 'The Michael J. Fox Show') unexpectedly turns up, who claims to be Erasmus’ grandson. With his father in jail, Erasmus and Paul must take him into their extremely child-unfriendly home and try to figure out how to raise him.

'IDEAL HOME' TRAILER

This all sounds pretty frivolous and fun, but there’s some serious meat to this story. Erasmus had his son Beau (Jake McDorman, 'American Sniper', TV's 'Limitless') when he was very young, and wasn’t involved in his life at all, so part of the plot deals with redemption. "The kid" (who spends the first half of the film without the men even knowing his name) has grown up with a dad who’s not in the running for any best father awards; he’s been exposed to drug dealing, swears a lot, and is initially homophobic. There’s tension in Erasmus and Paul’s relationship, further amplified by the arrival of the kid. And there’s genuine emotion in each of the men showing the youngster that they care about him in their own way, and earning his trust.

Still, we’re here for the comedy, and both Coogan and Rudd know how to deliver, having obviously built up a repertoire previously working together on 'Our Idiot Brother' and 'Night At The Museum'. Whether it’s scathing rebuttals or rip-snorting one-liners, you will inevitably find yourself laughing at some unexpected, dark, inappropriate points. It’s so well-written by Andrew Fleming - who also directed the film, along with ‘The Craft’ all the way back in 1998, believe it or not. He's created some supremely clever setups, with one of my favourite being the scene where Erasmus (slightly drunk) takes the kid to Taco Bell. However, for pure schmaltz, laugh-out-loud humour and a touch of self-referentialism, the very last shot of the film could be the greatest moment of all.

Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd know how to deliver, whether it’s scathing rebuttals or rip-snorting one-liners.

Steve Coogan’s obviously having a ball in this role. His flamboyant and childish Erasmus certainly has the temperament of a spoilt TV personality. Most of the time, his performance is camp without being stereotypical, though there are some tenuous moments. Paul Rudd, on the other hand, is marvellous as his better half, the solid rock and responsible adult. Surprisingly, these two do make a convincing couple, both in the frequently heated arguments, and in the more tender moments of the film. There's also a small but brilliant performance from Alison Pill as a Child Protective Services worker who comes to assess the living conditions at the house - and as you would expect, hilarity ensues.

Great fun is had with the setting too. Some of the scenes from Erasmus' cooking program are so over-the-top whilst showcasing this dazzling landscape, and there are some beautiful shots of Erasmus and Paul exploring the area. It’s crisply shot, and complimented by very efficient editing that ensures the story moves along at a steady pace.

‘An Ideal Home’ is a huge amount of fun, with some dark, real moments peppered throughout for a real kick. With just enough sweetness to balance the mixture out, this is a surprisingly endearing film - albeit with a healthy serving of vulgarity. It’s great to see an LGBTIQ+ film looking at the lighter side of tumultuous relationships, making this the closest thing to a queer rom-com out there, and while few will likely identify with these particular characters, they’re sure to squirm at a few of the situations they find themselves in.

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