Comedy about a couple unwittingly thrown into caring for a child falls on cliches, stiffs on laughter

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Attempting to send up the traditional sentimental family comedy while also embracing its mawkish conventions, "Ideal Home" is a confused contradiction in styles, and it doesn't work well enough to serve any audience.  

Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd play Erasmus and Paul, a couple that's been together for 10 years and bickers like they've been together for 40. They live a hoity-toity life in Albuquerque – Erasmus is a celebrity chef, Paul directs his TV spots – full of fancy dinner parties, casual drug use and little in the way of responsibilities. What could go wrong? 

Enter Angel (Jack Gore), Erasmus' 10-year-old grandson, who arrives and throws a wrench into their domestic situation. Angel's deadbeat father, who resulted from an affair Erasmus had with a woman years earlier, dumps the kid on them unexpectedly as he's hauled off to jail. Erasmus and Paul have no idea how to manage a child and no desire to learn how. "I don't want to be a terrible parent," Paul says, after ripping a line of cocaine a few hours after Angel arrives. 

So you've got two characters unwittingly thrown into a parental situation, that old standby, and the misadventures that come with the territory. The twist here, supposedly, is that Paul and Erasmus are a gay couple, and doesn't that just turn everything on its ear? No, not really. The comedy is flat, despite the best efforts of Rudd and Coogan, and the script ends up leaning on mushy, melodramatic cliches after initially working to reject them.

"Ideal Home" closes with a montage of pictures of children with same-sex parents, letting you know where its heart really lies. That it spends so much time running from that sentiment puts "Ideal Home" in an identity crisis. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama

'Ideal Home'

GRADE: C

Not rated: Language, sexual situations

Running time: 91 minutes  

 

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