FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: “The Fundamentals of Caring” stars Paul Rudd (Ant-Man, Dinner for Schmucks), Craig Roberts (Submarine, 22 Jump Street), Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty, A Quiet Passion), Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place [TV series], Hotel Transylvania 2), Julia Denton (In Dubious Battle, The Reliant), and Megan Ferguson (Bad Moms, The Comedians [TV series]). It is directed by Rob Burnett (We Made This Movie, Ed [TV series]), who also wrote the screenplay. Based on a novel, this film follows a grieving man named Ben (Rudd) who decides to become a care-giver, lending his services to a kid with muscular dystrophy named Trevor (Roberts). Trevor may be an annoyance to Ben, but soon enough they begin to bond through a road trip set up for both of their benefits.
Another Netflix original…this should be interesting. Honestly, I’ve heard good things about “The Fundamentals of Caring.” A few pals of mine said it was good and hilarious, so I thought I’d give it the time of day on my Friday night. Besides, it has Paul Rudd, so how can you go wrong? At its core, “Fundamentals” is your typical run-of-the-mill dirty comedy centered around a touchy issue. There’s a kid with muscular dystrophy, and him and his care-giver make jokes on his condition to further their friendship throughout the feature. It’s pretty straightforward, never surprising me nor attempting to be bold. What sells the idea, however, are the performances. While Selena Gomez could’ve done a heck of a lot better in her role (shocking to see her back in the acting shoes), everyone else did really good. I thought the chemistry between Rudd and Craig Roberts was the highlight of the flick, as it should have been with a story centered around the “bonding” of two leads. They equally brought forth their own personalities as well as some interesting comedy. When it came to the comedic aspect of this release, I would say I was disappointed. While Rob Burnett attempted to push the boundaries by openly making fun of a kid with a disease, his jokes fell flat more so than not. This was most likely due to their utter reliance on curse words. Throw in a few F words here, some over there, and you have funny dialogue, right? I think some of the best comedies are the ones that are hilarious without having to make cursing a crutch. There was a lot of cussing in this feature; not as much as some others I have seen, but enough to where it absorbed most of the talking in order to deliver a joke. I didn’t respect it nor care for it, and it was probably the biggest problem of the film besides it’s inability to make for a compelling story. I enjoyed the performances, and there were some scenes that I thought were done well. However, the characters themselves could’ve been fleshed out further. Trevor’s inner turmoil with his father seemed to be a menial affair that was hardly carved out outside of its scenes that I could count on one hand. Ben’s character arc of his deceased kid was really the only thing brought up consistently, though I predicted what happened to the child before it was finally revealed, and his issue of his divorce has to be resolved by the end regardless of his constant hiding. All of the conflicts presented in this movie were easily predictable in getting solved, so all I was left to hope for was entertaining writing. You all know what I thought about the dialogue, though there were select scenes I thought were good; pretty much all of the ones that involved fantastic cinematography. Whoever they got to film this, they did a terrific job. I particularly loved the scene where Trevor and Dot (Gomez) go to a diner across from their motel. The neon lights at night were utterly beautiful, and just looking at that sequence made it great. It’s unfortunate how the story doesn’t quite amount to its sleek look. As far as Netflix movies go, “The Fundamentals of Caring” is fine. I wouldn’t say it was terrible, but it wasn’t that great either. I asked for something new and exciting, and instead I received a typical dirty comedy with a lot of cussing; exactly what every film major seeks out. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to anyone, but if you are curious, give it a shot. I can see it having a fan base out there somewhere. FINAL SCORE: 70%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: