It strikes a nice balance between nobility and nastiness!
by Martin Hafer
A few days ago, I watched a horrid film that was produced for Netflix…The Do-Over. So, when I saw the latest film to come directly to Netflix, The Fundamentals of Caring, I was very apprehensive about it. Would it be yet another sub-par film or would it show that Netflix can make a product every bit as good as you’d see from larger and more traditional outlets? Fortunately, it a very good film and I am glad I forced myself to watch it.
The film stars Paul Rudd as Ben, a man whose life is in shambles. His marriage is over and his child has died. To deal with his grief and failing career as a writer, he decides to become a home health aid…a rather low paying and thankless job. His first assignment is an interesting one…Trevor (Craig Roberts). Trevor is not a typical movie young man with a disability, as he’s neither noble nor a complete jerk….the two stereotypes that seem rampant when films actually bother to show disabled characters. Instead, he’s incredibly sarcastic…and some of this sarcasm is his way of dealing with disappointments and fears. In this sense, he and Ben actually have a lot in common as both are afraid to get on with their lives. But it’s important Trevor do something, as his Muscular Dystrophy means a shortened life…and Ben hopes to put some more ‘life’ into that life.
So he plans a bizarre roadtrip…a trip to see some of the kitschy roadside sites in America. In particular, a long trip to see the world’s deepest granite pit! While this hardly sounds exciting, the trip offers quite a few twists and exciting turns…including their hooking up with a foul-mouthed young lady (Selena Gomez) and a pregnant women trying to get home before her baby arrives (Megan Ferguson).
The film is a delightful slice of life…and I hardly ever use the word ‘delightful’….so pay attention! Much of this is because the script by writer/director Rob Burnett does a great job of avoiding the usual clichés as well as making the characters and dialog interesting. The story is based on a novel by Jonathan Evison and the cast do a great job of bringing his story to life. In particular, I absolutely loved the job done by Roberts as Trevor…he was just terrific and manages to more than hold his own opposite a strong and capable performance by Rudd. The fact that Rudd was so good was no surprise. The fact a relatively unknown actor does a great job and isn’t overshadowed by him is. As for Gomez, she is also quite good. However, I should warn folks expecting the nice Disney Channel star, as here she is very hard-edged and her vocabulary is decidedly non-Disney!! Overall, it’s a very strong roadtrip film that left me very impressed and wanting more. Well worth seeing.