THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CARING (NETFLIX) (2016)
SYNOPSIS: The Fundamentals of Caring follows Ben, a retired writer who becomes a caregiver after suffering a personal tragedy. After 6 weeks of training, Ben meets his first client, Trevor, a foul-mouthed 18-year-old with muscular dystrophy. One paralyzed emotionally, one paralyzed physically, Ben and Trevor take an impromptu road trip to all the places Trevor has become obsessed with while watching the local news, including their holy grail: the World's Deepest Pit. Along the way, they pick up a sassy runaway and a mother-to-be who help test the pair's survival skills outside of their calculated existence as they come to understand the importance of hope and true friendship.
It’s gem liked this that makes Netflix special. According to Google, Netflix bought the rights to this indie drama way back in 2016. Pardon us for the lateness but isn’t it better later than never?
Comedian, Judd Apatow’s regular, Ant-Man. And the list goes on. The very likeable Paul Rudd plays Ben Benjamin, a down-and-out writer who becomes a caregiver to 18-year-old Trevor (Craig Roberts), a wheel-chair bound teenager who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Ben’s duty is to take care of the sardonic, foul-mouthed teen’s daily needs including wiping his ass while his mom, a single parent works in the day.
Frustrated with Trevor’s refusal to leave the house, Ben suggests to take Trevor on a cross-country road trip to visit some of American’s roadside attractions liked the world’s biggest Bovine and the world’s deepest pit. While initially fearful and hesitant, Trevor begins to embrace the road trip when Ben picked up a young pretty hitchhiker, Dot (Selena Gomez) along the way.
Based on Jonathan Evison’s 2012 novel, “The Revised Fundamentals of Caring” and adapted to the screen by former David Letterman’s head writer Rob Burnett, the movie is strictly a feel-good dramedy detailing the ups-and-downs of life. Ben is tormented by his painful past and on the verge of a divorce. Trevor is afraid of opening up and facing the world and Dot is running away from his father after the death of her mom.
Every single character in the movie is suffering and running away from some sort of a loss but at the same time, it is also genuinely funny to watch Trevor pranking Ben every now and then. The movie uses both comedy and sorrow to play out the absurdity, idiocrasy of life however there’s never a moment of make-believe because Rudd and Roberts is heartbreakingly hilarious.
Gomez has certainly come a long way since her days in Barney & Friends. The occasional actress is OK in her role as Dot although we love to see more of her character her than Peaches, a young pregnant woman who is probably a convenient plot device planted to turn Ben’s life around. Most of the scenes qualify as mere comedy except for one heart-breaking scene where Trevor confronts his father who abandoned him after he is diagnosed at the young age of three.
The Fundamentals of Caring is a feel-good, bittersweet comedy boasting two excellent leads and incredibly human on every level. In life, if you don’t like the card that you were dealt with, take responsibility and deal with it. Perhaps this is the biggest message coming out of this flick.
Review by Linus Tee