Ideal Home, out on Amazon Prime Video from February 26th, feels a lot more like a drama than a comedy. Uniting two cross-continental comedy behemoths, Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd, Andrew Fleming’s film breathes a different perspective into the bubbly rom-com genre, even if it falls into a few traps along the way.
Coogan is effortlessly amusing as Erasmus, a TV star whose estranged grandson Bill (Jack Gore) arrives unannounced as he and his partner Paul (Rudd) are living their lavish, A-list lifestyle. It’s clearly a very privileged society that they live in, but this isn’t to say that our two leads aren’t flawed: the bond between the lovers has clearly seen better days, with some dramatic moments that really work. The script, penned by Fleming, is perhaps more successful at handling the character moments than the comedy – there’s disloyalty, mental health struggles and obvious distance – as most of the humour derives from the natural spark between the leads rather than anything in the plot.
In fact, the plot relies a little too heavily on the nuance of adding a same-sex couple to the tried-and-tested adoption storyline. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, hitting the same beats as any other film in this sub-genre, and seems to lack any narrative thrust. The main complicating action here is the looming presence of the CPS – here represented by Alison Pill’s Melissa – and Bill’s incarcerated father, but this never feels hugely threatening, and doesn’t do enough to create any tangible stakes.
Plenty of recent industry discourse has tackled the debate over straight actors playing gay roles, so that’s something that won’t be addressed here, but what is significant is that Fleming based Ideal Home on his own personal experiences, which adds a huge layer of sentimentality to the film that gives a real human element to the flawed characters and classic struggles of child-rearing. It’s topped off by a truly heartwarming end credits sequence – with the credits rolling over a montage of real life same-sex couples and their children, giving the film a real emotional core.
And it’s undoubtedly the emotional moments that Ideal Home does best: delving into these characters, developing them and adding a layer of nuance to well-trodden narrative paths. The comedy, however, is somewhat less convincing, and without a doubt the film would’ve worked better as an out-and-out drama. That said, it’s an easy and ultimately uplifting watch, that challenges the conventions not only of the conventional nuclear family, but the comedy genre as a whole.
Signature Entertainment presents Ideal Home on Amazon Prime Video 26th February.