Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd play a squabbling middle-age couple whose daily routine is turned upside down by the arrival of a child, in a well-meaning, light-hearted comedy about same-sex couples. Coogan’s character, TV personality Erasmus Bramble, embodies the unapologetically flamboyant, self-important stereotype, his portrayal so over-the-top that it comes across as innocently funny rather than offensive. It certainly helps that his almost-straight-from-the-shoulders-down partner provides a far less campy counterpoint, although still remaining on the queerer side of butch.
Their life is spent in a dynamic equilibrium of filming Erasmus’ Santa Fe-based gastronomic show and relentless catty zingers that keep the union together at the same time that they hint at its issues. All of this however has to change when Erasmus’ estranged grandson Angel (Jack Gore), the long-term result of a heterosexual fling, shows up during one of their high-class dinners after his father’s arrest.
The comedy is born from the intersection of two binaries and four worlds: the wealthy gay couple indulging in a frivolous, carefree lifestyle with only marital troubles of fluctuating severity polluting their less than child-friendly paradise, and the kid demanding their care with his presence, whose mother overdosed and whose father taught him to deal drugs, and who demands he be called Bill because Angel “is gay”. It is indeed a comedy of types, where blatantly queeny homosexuality is a social class that is forced to reckon with a far less privileged, well-mannered plane of existence.
It is indeed a comedy of types, and not many of them, but there are genuine laughs to be had. The photography is lacklustre, the editing occasionally choppy, and the plot feels more like an episodic juxtaposition of events than the progression of a narrative driven by its characters, but there are genuine laughs to be had. The vitriolic one-liners do not fail to land, not in small part thanks to Rudd’s and Coogan’s acting, although the film suffers from a complete lack of observational humor, and potentially emotional moments are undercut by Bill feeling more like a prop than a flesh-and-blood child.
It is not new territory, not even for the mainstream, as TV series have long explored it, and although it is imperfect on multiple fronts, the witty antics of Ideal Home and the appropriation of stereotypes can still be entertaining.