Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Andrew Fleming
Stars: Steve Coogan, Paul Rudd, Jack Gore, Alison Pill, Jake McDorman.
Santa Fe is the home for Erasmus Brumble (Steve Coogan, from The Trip series of films, etc), a celebrity chef who hosts his own cable television cooking show, and Paul (Paul Rudd, from Ant-Man, etc), his producer and live in lover. They have been a couple for ten years, but now they spend a lot of time bickering. “Part of me wants to stick around just to watch him die,” Paul says casually to a fellow crew member.
But their lives are turned upside down during an al fresco dinner party one evening. Erasmus is approached by a ten-year old boy named Angel (Jack Gore, from the animated Ferdinand, etc), who claims to be his grandson. Angel’s father Beau (Jake McDorman, from Shameless, etc) has been sent to prison on drug charges and his mother, a drug addict, died from a fall a while ago. With no one else to care for him, it falls to Erasmus and Paul to look after the boy.
Erasmus and Paul have to adjust to this unexpected change in their lives as they try to raise Angel and provide for him. Can they make good parents? Angel has a fondness for Taco Bells and prefers to be called Bill. Erasmus and Paul provide for Angel, ensure that he gets to school and try to give him emotional support and provide for his social well-being. The boy’s presence forces the two men to re-evaluate their own relationship and temper their own hedonistic lifestyle, and they grow closer as a result. And what happens when his father is eventually released from prison?
The title for the film comes from the television show that Erasmus hosts, but Ideal Home seems rather ironic especially given the drama that plays out. Ideal Home taps into themes of parenthood, what makes a good parent, gay marriage, family, and it also presents a positive view of same sex couples who adopt children. A montage that plays during the end credits reinforces this.
Ideal Home is something of a passion project for director Andrew Fleming (The Craft, etc), a former child actor, and is also a more personal story for him as it loosely draws upon events from his own life and situation. He has spent the better part of ten years in bringing this “gay romantic comedy” to the screen, and the film has a lot of heart as a result. Much of the film’s humour comes from the obvious gay jokes, which some audiences may find a little on the nose, and it somehow feels a little dated.
Coogan relishes the opportunity to camp it up here as the snobbish and egocentric Erasmus, while a heavily bearded Rudd comes across as more butch and masculine but ultimately more caring and sympathetic. The pair play off each other well as the bickering couple and develop a great chemistry. Fleming directed young Gore in an episode of the tv series Billions, and he draws an appealing performance from the youngster as the troubled Angel. Alison Pill contributes a small role as a Child Services Protection agent who checks out their home to ensure that they can provide Angel with a safe and loving environment.
The basic plot of Ideal Home is familiar stuff, but Fleming still finds something fresh by giving it a same sex couple and exploring the virtues of same sex parenting. However, it still recalls the superior Any Day Now, which starred Alan Cumming and Garrett Dillahunt as a gay couple fighting to adopt a mentally handicapped teenager who has been abandoned. Ultimately, Ideal Home is an appealing and sweet natured if slightly lightweight and saccharine romantic drama. And at a rather brisk 85 minutes, it never outstays its welcome.