EXPECTATIONS: A poor comedy that relies on stereotypes for humour.
REVIEW: Considering the political climate that were in, you figure a mainstream comedy like Ideal Home, a film about two gay fathers that borders on stereotypes would be a bad idea. At least, that’s what people have been saying out there, due to impressions from the trailers and the posters.
But considering that this is a film review, let’s talk about the film. Director Andrew Fleming is a bit of a hit-and-miss director. For every hit he’s made like the cult horror flick The Craft, the cult Presidential satire Dick and the cult comedy Hamlet 2; he’s made critical disappointments like the comedy remake The In-Laws, the family-comedy Nancy Drew and his last film, the rom-com Barefoot.
And now we have Ideal Home, a comedy that Fleming says he drew from personal experience. Saddled with that and two capable comedic leads in Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan, on his second collaboration with the director, will Ideal Home be another hit?
Bill (Paul Rudd) and Erasmus (Steve Coogan) are a gay couple who are living a very extravagant life. Erasmus is a TV celebrity chef and Bill is the TV show director and they bicker on and on, mainly due to Erasmus’ towering ego.
But when Bill (Jack Gore) aka Angel, the grandson Erasmus never knew he had, shows up at their dinner party with nowhere else to go, the couple reluctantly decide to take him in, which changes the dynamic. For better or for worse?
Let’s begin with the problems of the film. Ideal Home feels like it’s stuck between two eras. One being the liberal era of today, as we see the two leading characters being gay and it’s never a big deal to the world the film exhibits nor the supporting characters.
Then there’s the other era being the era of the past, where there are countless tropes of gay stereotypes (like Mike Nichols‘ The Birdcage), that renders the film in a regressive fashion. It is because of this, the film comes off quite schizophrenic in its comedy, which dulls some of its comedic punches. And Fleming’s direction seems to be very self-conscious that the film is always aware of itself that it’s telling a story with gay characters.
It also doesn’t help that the story is incredibly predictable from beginning to end, that if one were in a coma and wasn’t in the cinema where the film was showing, that person would still figure it out. And the supporting cast all get the short shrift, especially the talented Alison Pill, which the film needed more of. But then again, all films need more of her presence.
But let’s not drown into hyperbole and get into the good stuff. The lead actors exude plenty of charm and get all the comedic mileage they can get out of the problematic script and their unlikable characters. Paul Rudd, for the most part, does the Paul Rudd comedic performance, which consists of being the “straight man”, standing straight, taking hits and delivering them back. But there are moments in the film where he shows surprisingly vulnerability, which pumps up the drama considerably, and that’s a major point to his performance.
Steve Coogan does the typical Steve Coogan comedic performance, which consists of him being incredibly self-centred, chauvinistic and egotistical like his character Alan Partridge and his personas in the Michael Winterbottom Trip films and Tristam Shandy, where he played a parody of himself. Nevertheless, he still proves to be very amusing in the role of Erasmus, and he shares very good chemistry with Rudd, trading barbs and loving remarks to each other with ease.
And there are some inspired moments that provide chuckles. One in particular is a running joke about Taco Bell that can be seen as either blatant product placement, a joke that is meant to split the difference between high culture and civilian culture or it’s meant to be a comedic aside on how children associate with fast food joints. Either way, it’s one of the more funnier uses of product placement since Marco Brambilla‘s Demolition Man for fast food. And Taco Bell!
Overall, Ideal Home is a pretty average comedy with some laughs thanks to the lead performances, but its messy script, Fleming’s self-conscious direction and predictable storytelling bring it down a notch. It’s neither a hit, nor is it a miss. It’s a rental at best.
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Cast: Steve Coogan, Paul Rudd, Jack Gore, Alison Pill, Jake McDorman
Director: Andrew Fleming
Screenwriters: Andrew Fleming