A Surprise Child
Erasmus Brumble (Steve Coogan) and Paul (Paul Rudd) are a long-term gay couple on the verge of a nervous breakdown in “Ideal Home”, a new comedy film written and directed by Andrew Fleming. Erasmus and Paul have been together many years and produce a successful cooking show on American basic cable TV, hosted by Erasmus himself. The success of the show allows them to lead an extravagant lifestyle and distracts them from their own relationship problems. Then one night, out of the blue, Angel (Jack Gore) shows up at their door with a note explaining that he is the child of Erasmus’ son, Beau (Jake McDorman).
Erasmus had not even been aware of Angel’s existence. Despite this, there is no one else in the world who can take care of his grandson so they decide to take Angel into their home and look after him. As can be expected, the child’s sudden arrival turns their world upside down and the task of parenting proves to be challenging to them. Angel, whom they soon take to calling Bill, is a difficult child and they may be a little too immature to take care of him properly. Yet it is their willingness to learn the tricks of the trade as they go along that shows that they are kind hearted souls. It is their own coming-of-age that is the film’s real driving force and is also the source of most of the film’s humor.
Paul and Erasmus are unapologetically gay and not concerned with having to hide who they are to be accepted by society. Gay parenting is explored in a more naturalistic way, rather than through overwhelming heavy-handedness. The film generates many laughs but they are neither at the expense of its lead characters nor dependent on gay stereotypes.
The film also works because of the balanced lead performances by Coogan and Rudd. They share great chemistry as both a comedy duo and as an on-screen long-term couple who feel like they don’t have to try so hard anymore. Despite their moaning and whining, Erasmus and Paul clearly love each other and part of the fun is seeing them realize that several times over the course of the film.
This is a lighthearted comedy that successfully updates conventional depictions of queerness and family and we get a heartwarming closing montage of real-life LGBTIQ families also reminds us that it’s time to update notions of domesticity and re-define what makes a home ‘ideal.
Erasmus had his son Beau when he was very young, and wasn’t involved in his life at all. Beau’s son “The kid” (who spends the first half of the film without the men even knowing his name) has grown up with a dad who has exposed him to drug dealing, cursing and homophobia With the arrival of “the kid”, the tension in the men’s relationship is further amplified but there’s genuine emotion in each of the men showing the youngster that they care about him in their own way, and earning his trust.
The comedy comes in the film’s scathing rebuttals and one-liners and it is dark and often inappropriate. These is also laugh-out-loud humor and a bit of self-referentialism with the very last shot of the film being the greatest moment of all.
Erasmus and Paul make a convincing couple, both in the frequently heated arguments, and in the more tender moments of the film. There is just enough sweetness to balance it all and it is great to see an LGBTIQ+ film looking at the lighter side of tumultuous relationships.