The Fundamentals of Caring Review
The slice of life movie. It can be a tough cookie. Being able to tell an engaging story among non-linear or offbeat story-telling can be tricky. The biggest complaint I would have against this type of movie is how alike they all are. Especially when they revolve around some kind of road trip. Dysfunctional people go on a field trip, they discover new things about them or things they kept inside, then the film ends. I have seen so many of them that they mostly don't register to me anymore. They have to do something special just to hold my attention.
I didn't know what I'd think of "The Fundamentals of Caring." In storyline, it seems a little too close to "Me Before You." Instead of a woman falling in love with a man who was paralyzed, "The Fundamentals of Caring" is about a man caring for another man who is paralyzed. Ben (Paul Rudd) is a former writer who takes up a job as a caregiver after experiencing a horrible tragedy. The boy Ben takes care of is Trevor (Craig Roberts), has a really bad disease that affects one out of 3500 males and it could claim his life before he turns 30. When Ben first begins this job, he helps Trevor use the restroom and makes sure nothing happens to him. Ben notices that Trevor wants to travel to see some close-by tourist spots, but anything could happen to him on the road, which makes his mother (Jennifer Ehle) nervous. Ben plans an impromptu road trip so that Trevor can visit the places he wants to. Sure enough, they learn some new things about themselves that they didn't know before and it turns into an adventure.
I know what your thinking, seems like every other independent roadie movie you have seen. Well, I an say that "The Fundamentals of Caring" is a confident, bright movie. It doesn't exactly work the way you'd think it would, which makes the movie full of surprises. For starters, Trevor doesn't have the personality you'd think he would. When Ben and Trevor first start hanging out together, Trevor purposely acts like he is going to die just to prank Ben. I like that Trevor is an upbeat jokey character, it would have been too easy to just be an angsty young person who gave up. It also sets up a fun dynamic between Trevor and Ben. The movie is clever in the way it plays with expectations.
What gives this movie a positive leg up is also the acting done by Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts. They make a heartwarming, good team. Because the movie goes out of its way to give both of these men actual characters to play, instead of mere types, "The Fundamentals of Caring" ascends farther than expected. Rudd has played unsuspecting fellows like Ben before, but he always brings a unique charm to his roles, as if they are different from each other and he doesn't disappoint here. Craig Roberts comes off like a God onscreen, completely confident in the character he is playing.
Now, some of you may say, "is that Selena Gomez?" Yes, its Selena Gomez. She's in the movie. She plays a hitchhiker that Ben and Trevor decide to help because Trevor has a crush. I've been no fan of Gomez for anything. She's one of those actresses that has killed entire experiences for me simply for being in the cast. How is she here? Fine, I guess. I do feel any girl her age could have played the character she plays. I don't think she brings anything particularly exciting to the role. The best thing I can say about her is that she doesn't derail the picture by any means, which is a miracle.
While the movie does play with expectations, its only in a matter of degrees. There is still so much to this that feels like standard operating procedure that I couldn't love it completely. The lessons learned from all characters involved you could predict a mile away. But the movie does such a good job making you smile and even making you laugh. Its hard not to like it.
FINAL GRADE: B+