Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Fundamentals of Caring (2016) Review

Directed by
Rob Burnett

Streaming services like Netflix are revolutionizing the film industry.  It seems like there are more and more things being made and produced to go straight to streaming.  Television shows have been the primary focus so far, however some movies have started to permeate.  Netflix currently has a deal with Adam Sandler for his recent run of movies, but if you have seen the types of movies he has made for them (The Ridiculous 6, The Do-Over), Netflix might want to take back their deal.  The movies that have started to make this a viable option are films like Beasts of No Nation which many people believe would have been an Oscar nominee if it hadn't been a Netflix release (although some would try to blame it on race).  The latest Netflix feature film is continuing to show that quality can come from films that debut on the internet.
The Fundamentals of Caring stars Paul Rudd as ... well, Paul Rudd.  His character's name is Ben, but the characteristics of Ben match most roles Rudd plays.  Ben is a more tragic turn on the traditional Rudd persona though.  He is a man down on his luck that is searching for new purpose in his life.  He tries out a new job of being a professional caregiver.  His first assignment is a boy named Trevor (Craig Roberts).  He is suffering from muscular dystrophy and is confined to a wheelchair.  His mother has yet to find a caregiver that will put up with Trevor's quirks.  It is quickly apparent that Ben is the perfect caregiver as he has the wit to match Trevor's sense of humor.  In the first interactions between Ben and Trevor, you realize this is a different type of movie.  Instead of being the traditional, inspirational, coming-of-age tale you might expect out of such a situation, it instead turns into a buddy comedy with flashes of a coming-of-age story.  In between scenes of Ben and Trevor hilariously bantering back and forth, Ben helps Trevor break out of his shell and explore the world as they decide to go on a road trip to see worthless landmarks like the World's Biggest Bovine and the World's Deepest Pit.  Along the way, they meet some new friends as you continue to enjoy just being a fly on the wall in the lives of this match made in heaven.
Like I said, Paul Rudd is not forced to stretch his acting chops very much.  There really is no problem with that though.  Paul Rudd is one of those actors who seems to be endlessly entertaining just being himself.  Whether it is being Phoebe's husband in the final season of Friends or being the most refreshing part of the newest wave of Marvel movies, Paul Rudd has shown that it is entertaining just seeing Paul Rudd being Paul Rudd.  The real revelation in The Fundamentals of Caring is Craig Roberts.  He has had minor roles in some notable movies in the last few years, however he truly shows his capabilities in this performance.  I was also pleasantly surprised by Selena Gomez.  This is the first time I have seen her act since Spring Breakers ("Spring Break Forever!), and she is not one you think of when considering young acting talent, but she fits right in with this dysfunctional pair.  Lastly, it's always nice to see Bobby Cannavale in anything.
Rob Burnett is not what you would consider a household name when it comes to quality film making, however he is a veteran of the industry.  His most notable credits are writer and producer of the early 2000's show Ed as well as head writer and executive producer for The Late Show with David Letterman.  Knowing just that alone shows how talented he is.  As Burnett is trying to blaze a path in film, this movie will definitely help his standings.  The Fundamentals of Caring is a breath of fresh air.

If there was one critique I would have, it would be with the ending.  It ends a little too cliche and conventional than the rest of the movie deserves.  However, it is not something that, I would say, ruins the film.  I just wish it were a little different.  Overall, this film is definitely one worth seeing, especially since all it takes is to log in to your Netflix account and click on it.


Watch the trailer here:

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