Ideal Home follows Paul (Paul Rudd) and Erasmus (Steve Coogan). Paul produces Erasmus’ cooking show, featuring cultural appropriation and oblivious decadence, highlighting the couple’s separation from the world outside of their high-society, Santa Fe bubble. Bill, Erasmus’ forgotten grandson from a crime-laden home, shows up in need of the couple’s help at a dinner party, disrupting the ambient noise of privilege and gossip.
At the beginning, Paul and Erasmus are the main focus. They joke about their gayness confidently, owning the stereotypes of their identity, and taking the power away from those who stereotype them negatively. Rudd and Coogan, however, are openly straight, which makes this ownership of the humour feel slightly stolen. The writer-director, Andrew Fleming, thought up the film’s concept 10 years ago, which may explain the trickles of staleness that result from the satirical, over-the-top portrayal of gayness by straight actors. Though this seeps through at times, it doesn’t necessarily ruin the film.
This is largely because there is genuine chemistry between Rudd and Coogan, which, combined with Bill’s presence, leads to character development for all three as they become parents. Fleming, who based the film on his own experience of being in a same-sex relationship and a parent, also casts openly gay actors as straight. They are often homophobic or pretentiously rich, diffusing gayness from being the joke of the film. For example, Paul and Erasmus have an interaction with a “dad-bod” straight man who nervously repeats “she was” when alluding to his sexual history. Homophobia and fragile masculinity becomes the joke as Paul winks knowingly, “A girrrl?”
Watching Ideal Home can be, especially at the beginning of the film, like eating an old piece of candy. It tastes sweet but sometimes you can’t help feeling its outdatedness.
CAST: Paul Rudd, Steve Coogan, Kate Walsh, Jack Gore, Alison Pill, Jake McDorman
DIRECTOR: Andrew Fleming
WRITER: Andrew Fleming
SYNOPSIS: A gay couple living a lavish, career-driven lifestyle are forced to pay attention to the importance of their relationship after the unexpected arrival of a child.