Ideal Home is an irresistibly funny, irreverent comedy on gay parenting, featuring a camped up Steve Coogan at the top of his game in a sparkling double act with an equally excellent Paul Rudd.
Going by the trailer, I had some doubts about Ideal Home – to be specific, how much I could stand of Steve Coogan hamming it up as an extravagantly gay character abruptly shoved into a parental role. Just goes to show, yet again, the folly of forming preconceptions based on a trailer. Coogan and his co-star Paul Rudd bring the house down in a sparkling comedic double act as flamboyant celeb chef Erasmus and his partner in work and play Paul, respectively.
The couple is middle-aged, going on, oh, 17. Their très well appointed (and très enviable) adobe home is party central for half of Santa Fe, it seems. However, there are hints that all the fine food, parties, booze and cocaine may not be pure hedonism, functioning instead to paper over some cracks in the boys’ relationship. Then Erasmus’ grandson Angel (Jack Gore), whom he has never met, turns up unannounced at one of their dinner parties, and everything changes. Sort of.
The kid is taciturn at first, not even divulging his name, which he hates. He plucks Bill out of the air as his preferred handle, and his reluctant foster parents are happy to oblige. He’s cynical and worldly for his tender years, as well he might be. His mother is no longer around and his father, Erasmus’ no-hoper son from an early hetero dalliance, has been jailed for the umpteenth time. Bill has sought out Erasmus because he has nowhere else to go.
The pressure is turned up on Erasmus and Paul’s relationship as they struggle to integrate their indulgent lifestyle with the sudden responsibility of looking after a child, but the laughs keep coming. In fact, they escalate. A visit from a social worker who calls to check on Bill’s welfare and discovers the lads’ gay porn collection is a hoot. But the loudest of the LOL moments comes when Bill gives a talk at school about what not to say to gay parents. He does a Little Johnny par excellence, leaving the despairing teacher tomato-faced and the class (and audience) in stitches. Actually, second-loudest: watch for the scene referencing Dances With Wolves. I’ll say no more…
Of course, there’s nothing particularly original about the kid-foisted-on-to-reluctant-parents set-up, but that doesn’t matter when the comedy is as successful as it is here. Working gleefully off writer/director Andrew Fleming’s witty, irreverent screenplay, Coogan and Rudd combine brilliantly to hilarious effect. Their comic timing is spot on and the obvious fun they have in their roles is contagious. Resistance is useless (I tried for the first 20 minutes or so).
Ideal Home has a serious message to impart: ie, that above all kids need love, care and support, the provision of which has nothing to do with parental sexual orientation. However, Fleming is never hostage to his underlying agenda, never didactic. And in a sense he covers all bases with the dual irony of the title of the film.
On one hand, he’s wryly taunting those who still cling to their anti-gay-parent attitudes; on the other, he’s acknowledging that his film is a camped-up fantasy. This is made abundantly clear in the final scene. The foster dads and Bill are driving down the road when Paul wryly points out “a fucking rainbow” arcing across the sky before them.
Ideal Home is one of those cinematic delights that might be broadly grouped with off-beat feelgood family flicks like Little Miss Sunshine and The Kids are All Right – except funnier and a whole lot campier. I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying the hell out of it.
Movie Website: https://www.iconmovies.com.au/movies/ideal-home
Australian release date: Ideal Home at Luna Cinema, Leederville from June 21, 2018
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