The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)

Unlike the movies that I've been watching lately, The Fundamentals of Caring was not on my watchlist but I watched it anyway because I was in the mood for Paul Rudd and this was one of the Paul Rudd movies available on Netflix. 

The story follows Ben (Paul Rudd), a retired writer who is in need of a job and decides to become a caregiver. After completing a six-week course, he is hired by Elsa (Jennifer Ehle) to care for her sardonic and anxious 18-year-old son, Trevor (Craig Roberts), who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. After a bumpy start, Ben and Trevor embark on a road trip to see American roadside attractions. Along the way, they pick up a foul-mouthed runaway, Dot (Selena Gomez), and a pregnant woman, Peaches (Megan Ferguson). 

The Fundamentals of Caring has pretty much the same plot every single road trip movie follows, it's filled with clichés, and it's rather predictable. Also, it kind of lacks obstacles, like every single thing goes as smoothly as it can possibly go. Still, it's interesting enough to keep you engaged and ultimately the story delivers an important message —it's only up to us to decide whether we want to live our life to its fullest or use excuses to change nothing about our lives, live the same day over and over, and remain stuck where we are. 

As for the main characters, there's something about them that quite didn't work with me. As I was expecting, both Ben and Trevor, especially the latter, are quite unlikeable characters at the beginning. Unfortunately, although they do have a nice development, they don't grow on you as much as you would expect them to. I liked, however, how The Fundamentals of Caring used them to poke fun at the clichés about disabled people in movies, and the chemistry between Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts is so genuine and touching, it's a real pleasure to watch them. Also, they both do a nice job in their roles, the first as a man who won't let go of his past, and the latter as a teenager who is afraid to leave his comfort zone and live life to its fullest.

The female characters and performances, on the other hand, are bland to say the least. Neither Dot nor Peaches add to the plot —the first, despite the fact that she is the one kind of pushing Trevor out of his comfort zone (he has a crush on her and therefore does everything he thinks she thinks is cool), is nothing but a needless love interest; as for the latter, I'm still trying to figure out why she's there, maybe to make the skin of people who dislike babies and such crawl (yes, that's the reaction I have when I see babies). They are just shallow and unrealistic and don't seem to fit with the rest of the film. Also, Selena Gomez, while she does okay in the dramatic moments, has the worst comedic timing ever. And speaking of waste, the filmmakers thought it was cool to have Bobby Cannavale play a super minor role as Gomez's father.

Ultimately, The Fundamentals of Caring is not a terrible film but it's not even as good as it could have been. I mean, the script is quite a mess and other than Rudd, nobody seems to care to balance drama and comedy or be able to do both.

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