This wonderful movie, "Ideal Home," could not have come at a more symbolic time from a standpoint of the dialogue that is occurring in this country. I'm not going to stand up and say it's an important movie but it sorta is. Because it's about people, not stereotypes or labels, and we need so much more of this and less of that. We need to be reminded that no one category of men or women has an exclusive on love, relationships, anger, or pain.
Paul Rudd and Brit Steve Coogan play an odd-couple, gay couple. Actually, let's take the "gay" out of the equation and just say couple. Odd is optional but wholly accurate. Rudd is a producer/director who sometime longs for a bigger stage (the Rachael Ray show) and Coogan is a world-renowned chef who can be "fabulous" anywhere. They live in the Southwest in a stunning home and have a nearly-perfect life. They entertain the mayor, shoot Coogan's cooking show and bicker constantly.
Unfortunately, their little slice of paradisaical routine has become familiar, stale and toxic.
Enter Coogan's 10-year-old grandson who shows up after his father is arrested. Coogan has an estranged son from an "experimental phase in the 80's." When the son gets arrested for drug dealing he sneaks the young boy out of the apartment, gives him some money, cocaine and a bible with an address and tells him to take a taxi to Coogan's home so the kid doesn't get shuttled into a foster home. As soon as the kid interrupts Coogan and Rudd's character's dinner party, the fit hits the shan.
Although the premise may be a bit familiar, it is informed by the very thing I don't want to discuss - the fact that they are gay. There's not a tremendous amount of intolerance for the couple's lifestyle - mostly it is accepted and even at times celebrated. But it is a thin veneer of tolerance and it surfaces at times to remind you that many still judge people by their race, color, or orientation. Even the young boy calls them "faggots" at a surprising moment. But for the most part, the gay nature of the film is just there and yes, at times, it is discussed. But none of that is what makes the film fantastic or worthy of your attention.
It is just funny. I mean gut-clutching funny.
It's also tender, and dramatic and every other good thing you can imagine but I sat there, in delight, mostly laughing myself silly scene after scene.
This film roars with great lines and situations. There's a scene on bear skin rug that will have you howling. Coogan's character just shows up in his reds and furs and you're twittering already. Rudd's exasperated, long--suffering characterization was spot on and a perfectly balanced foil to Coogan's character's antics. As I roll through the film in my mind I find myself just grinning and chuckling at the interactions of these characters.
A friend I went with to the screening said it best: intelligent filmmaking. Yes, yes, and hell yes.
The writing truly just sparkles. The characters are deeply imagined and delivered on. The acting, directing, cinematography - all top notch. Some of the vistas in New Mexico were National Geographic gorgeous.
And did I mention Fun-ny!
I have not laughed that hard in many years in a movie. And although the movie was a trade screening (primarily for distributors) at the Grove in L.A. the entire theater of this tough audience who've seen a lot of movies over the years were on the floor with mirth. I can't think of any moment that tried to be funny that wasn't. It hit 9.9999/10 on that count. But when it had to be serious it was - successfully.
"Ideal Home" was written and directed by Andrew Fleming. He had to have tapped into some deeply personal experiences in a long-term relationship because the film bleeds with a wise veracity. The wonderful thing about that veracity is it isn't about gay - it's about everyone. Everyone can relate to this film. You don't need a rainbow flag flying to love this movie.
I found it astounding that I never, not once, thought about time. I was immersed and gleeful in this world of these people who worked hard to say "I love you and care about you" but couldn't quite get there most of the time. I sat up and forward in my seat relishing every moment. I actually cannot wait to see it again. It is truly that good.
My friend, Clark Peterson, is one of the producers and he has a good habit (not to mention years of hard-won experience) of picking these wonderful niche films. I hope this film finds the wide audience it deserves. It lifts and empowers us all because it talks about the struggles of people - not gays, straights, queers, blacks, whites, Mexicans, Muslims - people. Because in case you somehow missed it, love has no color, gender or orientation. Pain and happiness are universal. This movies illustrates that clearly.
I cannot recommend it highly enough for all the right reasons but most of all because it was tremendously, delightfully, expertly - funny.
Please, please see it as soon as it is released.