Film reviews

Edinburgh International Film Festival: Ideal Home

When I first found out that Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd were in a comedy together I got excited. Two of my favourite comedy actors on the screen together. One known for his character Alan Partridge and his series The Trip. And the other, known for almost all the good throwaway American comedies like Anchorman and I Love You Man. Oh, and he plays Ant-man in that series of indie movies. Then, when I found out Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd were going to be playing a gay couple I nearly died with excitement. I could imagine how funny something like that could be. And I have to say, I was right to be excited.

The story in Ideal Home is pretty standard: one of an unlikely family. Erasmus Brumble (Coogan) is a cowboy-obsessed, TV chef and host of a show called Ideal Home. Him and his producer/partner Paul (Rudd) have a love-hate relationship. They’re the upper-class liberal of Santa Fe, refusing to shop at Walmart (for moral reasons) and confused about why anyone would eat at Taco Bell. Both of them are arrogant and terrible people. They are constantly bickering, and this provides the basis for much of the comedy in the film. Some of this is possibly improvised and it really allows both of them to flex their comedic muscles. At one moment the couple could be throwing hilarious insults at each other one minute then, end the scene with “do you want a blowjob?”. The sass is off the charts with these two and the situations they get into with the kid are equally as funny.

There are not exactly a lot of layers to this movie. They get a child that they didn’t know about and did not want, thanks to Brumble’s estranged son being sent to jail and dumping his child on them. Completely useless at first, the couple must figure out his name, get him into school and get him to make some new friends. The new kid, who turns out to be called Bill, is traumatised by his past and not used to having a loving family either.

The relationships between the three central performers are another reason this movie flourishes. Both of the adults have a unique relationship with the child which changes and evolves throughout the movie, taking on a different role and style of parenting which influences his mood and behaviour. But as I mentioned above, the relationship of Paul and Erasmus is most central to the comedy of the movie. All the characters really grow and evolve over the course of the movie, all for the better.

Ideal Home is billed as a comedy-drama, and these moments are scattered throughout the film but unfortunately a lot of them fall flat. Some are difficult to notice since they are filled to the brim with jokes and with others they apply the handbrake and try to be serious for a couple of minutes. There are a couple of heart-warming moments, especially towards the end of the movie, which work well.

You could easily sum up this movie as “just fine” and toss it aside because as a piece of art (or however you like to view your movies), it really is nothing special, due to the fact you may have seen it all before. But based on the sheer pleasure value of Ideal Home I really enjoyed my time with it. The comedy is great and it gets the job done for what it is. There are some heart-warming moments and it’s likely you won’t stop smiling for long if you have a soul. But the major selling point for me is the Coogan and Rudd sass-off that goes on for most of the runtime. Which is worth the price of admission alone.

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