By Christian DiMartino
The Fundamentals of Caring is quirky, profound, and moving… or, that’s what it thinks. And there strikes the problem.
There are funny moments in The Fundamentals of Caring, and it features performances from its two leads that keep it watchable. But yet to me, the whole thing felt a little phony. It seems like a film that’s taken notes from other successful indie films (road trip, life lessons, dating, sideplots, side characters there for relief of some sort, etc.). The result is a film just didn’t quite work for me. I didn’t buy it.
Paul Rudd actually gives one of his best performances as Ben, a nice dude who’s in the middle of a divorce and who has suffered a serious loss. In need of a job, he is hired on to help a boy named Trevor (Craig Roberts), a wheel-chaired English chap with a filthy mind and heart. Roberts was great in Submarine a few years ago, showing that he is capable of carrying a movie on his own. Here, his performance is fine, but at the same time, we almost root for this kid to bite the dust.
After much talk of wiping asses (seriously, you could make a drinking game out of all of the talk of pee and poo), the two see something in each other… kind of. And they decide to set off on a road trip, because Trevor never leaves the house. Along the way they meet a drifter (my darling bride, Selena Gomez) who Trevor has the hots for, a pregnant chick, they go searching for Trevor’s father, and they learn life lessons blah blah blah.
There’s things to like about The Fundamentals of Caring. The performances are strong, there’s funny moments here, and it has an ending that will irritate, then pleasantly surprise. It’s also fairly entertaining. So, what a shame that it all feels so familiar, and sort of forced.
I got a vibe while I was watching this film that everyone thought they were making something life changing. I’m not going to call this film pretentious, because it’s not quite there. It’s close to that though. There’s also moments that are played for laughs that really just aren’t funny. They just sort of rubbed me the wrong way.
I guess the whole film kind of did. It’s not a terrible movie by any means, and there’s things to admire. Netflix has done better. But they’ve also done worse. The Ridiculous Six, I’m looking at you.