Director: Andrew Fleming
Screenwriter: Andrew Fleming
Runtime: 91 mins.
Australian Release Date: 21 June 2018
Previewed at: Dendy Newtown, Sydney, on 30 May 2018.
The Australian premiere of Andrew Fleming's Ideal Home was at this year's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Film Festival in Sydney. In fact it was the opening night film and, by all accounts, it was well received and a joyous way to kick off the festival. And why wouldn't it be? It’s a lot of fun and delivers a strong message about love and commitment and joins the list of films about same-sex couples getting wide theatrical release - not before time!
Erasmus (Steve Coogan) and his partner Paul (Paul Rudd) are set up in Sante Fe, New Mexico, living the dream. They have a lavish lifestyle that is supported by their successful cable cooking show which is hosted by the flamboyant Erasmus and produced by level-headed Paul. It is apparent that the two men have a love/hate relationship in that ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ way that couples in long-term relationships often do, constantly bickering and yet besotted with each other. One night, during a raucous (and vacuous) dinner party, a young boy arrives claiming to be Erasmus's grandson. We learn that his father is the result of a fling Erasmus had in the ‘80s when he was ‘experimenting' and indulging in too much alcohol and Peruvian marching powder! The lad (Jack Gore) won't reveal his name and declares he wants to be called ‘Bill’ and says his father Beau (Jake McDorman) has been recently carted off to prison. Beau's parting advice to his son was to hightail it to his grandfather's as it would be a better alternative to being placed in care. Erasmus and Paul are both completely bamboozled by this addition to their already chaotic household however, in time, they both mellow and take responsibility for their charge although, as usual, it's Paul that does all the work. And it is hard work because the kid is pretty feral.
There are many very funny one-liners in writer/director Fleming's at times outrageous script. In one very amusing scene, Erasmus and Paul completely baffle child protection officer Emily (Alison Pill), who pays them a home visit to check on the child’s situation and finds some ‘adult’ DVDs. Coogan and Rudd are believable as a gay couple and convince the audience of the veracity of their relationship. Their roles could easily have been overplayed, making Ideal Home somewhat farcical, and the fact that they've avoided this temptation goes to show the diversity of the pair's acting talents. Rudd, particularly, is excellent as the ‘straight' partner. The film could have been an over-the-top parody of a gay couple but, to its credit, it isn't. It does, however, not hold back in depicting the guys’ life together and there is plenty of camp bitchiness and a rather crazy sex scene that make this a frank and open look at same-sex relationships.
Ultimately, Fleming's movie reveals that, regardless of which side of the sexual fence you sit on, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty we are all pretty much the same when faced with difficult decisions that affect our lives and the lives of our dependants; and sometimes it takes an interloper to remind us of important values that are easy to ignore. In this case, Ideal Home does it in a heart-warming, funny and positive manner that will make you think again about family values.