The Fundamentals of Caring
is a film written and directed by Rob Burnet. It stars Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts, and Selina Gomez.
Follows Ben, a retired writer who becomes a caregiver after suffering a personal tragedy. After six 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.
A more apt title for this film is “The Fundamentals of Comedy.” I haven’t laughed this hard watching a film all year, and don’t believe I’ll see another like it. A black comedy done right, The Fundamentals of Caring
has a razor sharp edge like no other, constantly subverting road trip clichés, while crafting a tender and poignant dramatic core that is as fragile as the characters that made it.
This on its own is reason enough to give the film a positive review, but what really solidifies this film as one of the best of the year is the fact that it's just so gleefully irreverent and refreshingly mean-spirited in its comedy that makes the more sincere moments feel all the more emotionally charged and truly tender.
Though perhaps the film does handle some of it more heady themes like loss and living with a physical disability with kid gloves as it is more resolute on delivering its deeply insightful commentary on fatherhood. Through the use of four highly complex yet stunningly understandable and quite often tragic instances of fatherhood in contemporary America, The Fundamentals of Caring
subtly exposes the dysfunctionality of it all, while retaining its bubbly varnish.
A tricky feat but writer-director Rob Burnett stuck the landing with a little help from his remarkable cast. Out of his leads, Craig Roberts proves his prowess by delivering his finely tuned, often, brash dialogue with side-splitting results, as does Paul Rudd, who delivers one of his best and most mature performances to date.
The two actors act off each other perfectly and maintain a continuous feeling of progression even as the film is drawing to a close. Rudd and Roberts bring out the best in each other and from their characters which in turn converts some of the more questionable turns the film takes feel real and earned.
This was far from the case when Dot played by Selina Gomez enters the film. Gomez delivers a good performance and remains a compelling leading lady. The problem was with the scripting behind her character. Dot as a character was completely washed out in comparison to Rudd’s Ben and Robert’s Trevor, as she feels like more of a plot device than an actual character.