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dir-scr Andrew Fleming
prd Maria Teresa Arida, Clark Peterson, Aaron Ryder, Maxime Remillard, Gabrielle Tana
with Paul Rudd, Steve Coogan, Jack Gore, Alison Pill, Jake McDorman, Kate Walsh, Lora Martinez-Cunningham, Javier Gonzales, Evan Bittencourt, Jenny Gabrielle, Pam Brady, Will Gluck
release US 29.Jun.18, UK 6.Jul.18
Meet the grandparents: Rudd and Coogan
EDINBURGH FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With a warm, silly tone, this comedy is an engaging mix of thematic elements as it offers contrasting viewpoints around a range of issues. Oddly, despite the premise and references to sex, drugs and porn, the film never has much of an edge to it. But the gentle humour creates a relaxed tone, which allows writer-director Andrew Fleming to touch on some big issues without getting heavy-handed.
When the Santa Fe cops finally catch up with his drug-addled dad Beau (McDorman), 10-year-old Bill (Gore) turns up on the doorstep of his grandfather, the vain, over-the-top cowboy chef Erasmus (Coogan) and his serious-director boyfriend Paul (Rudd). But having a stubborn child around strains their tetchy relationship. And a social worker (Pill) begins to be concerned whether their home is appropriate for a child. As Erasmus and Paul begin to bond with Bill, they need to come to terms with the fact that Beau might get out and take him away.
The breezy romcom approach allows Fleming to touch on several big topics in ways that are never preachy. This is a story about the power of opening up to someone outside your comfort zone: virtually everyone in this film needs to connect with people they had previously dismissed. And while the openly emotive moments border on sentimentality, the salty language and honest discussions of sex and sexuality ground everything in a sense of realism.
Coogan has the flashier role as the preening, oblivious Erasmus, and he finds sharp insight along the way, along with some clever offhanded humour. Meanwhile, Rudd delivers a more textured turn as the intelligent, tightly wound Paul, who is unnerved when he confronts his paternal instincts. Thankfully, while both characters could easily have tipped over into stereotypical nuttiness, both actors keep them believable. The supporting cast members don't have much to do, but they set up the two leads perfectly.
In the final act, the plot takes some turns that feel contrived (losing one important thread in the process), but there are a variety of telling observations about Erasmus and Paul's relationship that have nothing to do with the fact that they're gay, apart from providing a steady stream of knowing wit. Where this goes is surprising and only predictable because of the demands of the script's structure. And while it's the kind of film that generates smiles rather than laughter, it also leaves us with an important lingering message about family.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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