As two well-heeled aesthetes living in a version of gay paradise, where one partner hosts a cooking show that the other produces, Erasmus (Steve Coogan) and Paul (Paul Rudd) are ambivalent about the prospect of parenthood.
But when Erasmus’s estranged son is sent to prison, leaving Erasmus’s troubled young grandson Bill in his and Paul’s care, the couple adapt to the child’s needs. For better and for worse, their parenting style matches their prickly relationship. Flighty Erasmus plans parties to help Bill make friends, while duty-bound Paul takes over mundane tasks like packing lunches and driving the boy to his Santa Fe elementary school.
The director of “Ideal Home,” Andrew Fleming, based the movie on his own experience as the second parent to his partner’s child, and the movie thrives by depicting the idiosyncratic textures of gay relationships. “Ideal Home” is genuinely funny, and the poignant and pithy script is aided by the chemistry between its stars, who are equally adept with comedic punch lines as they are with dramatic gut punches. Refreshingly, the film’s tone seems pitched more to gay audiences than straight ones. Erasmus and Paul would prefer white wine over beer, thank you, and there is a pleasing and rare lack of self-consciousness about the way the characters engage with their identities.
“Ideal Home” avoids explicitly addressing its politics until the credits, which play over a photo montage of real gay families. Mr. Fleming’s gesture is clearly heartfelt, but in a film that avoids the sappiness so frequently reserved for gay domesticity in popular entertainment, it is the one sentimental sleight of hand that gives the game away.
Ideal Home NYT Critic’s Pick