Steve Coogan has shown himself in the past to be a good straight actor post Alan Partridge in such films as “Philomena” and “The Look of Love”. Here he returns to comedy in tandem with Paul Rudd, a veteran of the rom com. Acting somewhat against type, they play a middle aged gay couple, who find themselves thrust into unwilling parenthood.
Coogan is Erasmus Brumble, a flamboyant and narcissistic tv cooking show host. Rudd, almost unrecognizable behind a bushy beard and a brutal haircut, is his producer and long time partner Paul. Although they bicker bitterly and incessantly, we are given to understand that beneath this there is a deep affection. They also enjoy a delightfully hedonistic lifestyle in their Santa Fe mansion, where they throw lush dinner parties.
A spanner is thrown into their works however when Erasmus’s grandson (Jack Gore) arrives out the blue. Way back when, it turns out, before he came out, Erasmus had a brief affair with woman, which produced a son Beau (Jake McDorman) with whom he has since had no contact. When the now thirty something Beau is arrested, he sends the child off to find his grandad. Needless to say, the couple are at first horrified. “We’re kids ourselves”, wails Erasmus. Well he certainly is. But also needless to say, as this is a movie, they get to cope and even learn to love the little blighter.
The story in fact develops much along the lines of the romantic comedies Rudd is associated with. Couple meet child, couple and child hate each other, couple fall in love with child, there are some setbacks, when it looks like they will be parted but it is no spoiler with this sort of movie to say that all will be well in the end. And the journey is entertaining for most of the time.
Gore as the child is rather good. A sulky little tyke at first with an unvarying suspicious glare, he then blossoms into likeable without being too cute. At first refusing to reveal his name, not surprisingly as it’s Angel –this family sure go in for fancy monikers – Billy, as he insists on being called, rejects Erasmus’s haute cuisine, insisting the couple take him to the local Taco Bell fast food outlet. I hope the company put some money into the film, as they sure get an awful lot of plugs. This does though produce one of the comic highlights of the film, when Erasmus asks them for the wine list.
Coogan in the showier of the lead roles has a lot of fun, though his camping about sometimes veers dangerously close to caricature. He is better in the more serious moments when his relationship with Paul is threatened. It is Rudd though who creates the most convincing relationship with Billy, as the more mature half of the couple and the one who ends up doing most of the parenting.
There are some other good comic moments, as when the child protection officer turns up somewhat late in the day and finds the couples’ collection of porn movies that Billy has been rifling through. And there is some entertaining, spiky dialogue.
While not a great or ground breaking comedy, this passes and hour and a half pleasantly enough. Stay for the credits, as the film’s director, Andrew Fleming, was inspired to make it by his own experience of being a gay parent. He shows us some really rather sweet family photos over the end credits.