From Netflix and director Rob Burnett comes The Fundamentals of Caring — an adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Jonathan Evison. Starring Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts, Bobby Cannavale, Frederick Weller and Selena Gomez, the film is now streaming on Netflix.
A writer (Paul Rudd) retires after a personal tragedy and becomes a disabled teen’s caregiver. When the two embark on an impromptu road trip, their ability to cope is tested as they start to understand the importance of hope and friendship.
Director Rob Burnett has been a producer on the Late Show with David Letterman for years, garnering over 30 Emmy nods and five wins. This is his first foray into writing and directing features and after having seen the darkly comedic and impressive results, I can’t wait to see what else he’s going to do. Starring Paul Rudd as a grieving father who is going through extremely hard times with his marriage ending, he winds up taking a caregiver course and his first client is the overly sarcastic and hilarious Trevor played perfectly by Craig Roberts. I haven’t seen Roberts since the indie drama Submarine but he’s tremendous here playing a teen with muscular dystrophy bound to a wheelchair. All he wants is to pee standing up or you know, a BJ from Katy Perry as he requests for his Make-A-Wish.
The Fundamentals of Caring is funny and appropriately grim because of it’s nature and concept. Trevor constantly pretends to choke on his food in order to freak Ben (Rudd) out. It’s absurd and brilliantly written in order to pull off such dark comedy this way but under the guidance of Burnett, the film really comes together and I must say it features one of the most perfect endings of the year. The movie does get a little heavy at times and even as funny as it can be, I did start to become depressed on more than one occasion and it kinda threw the experience for me more than once.
The backstory of Ben is really hard to come to terms with and once you see it all play out by the conclusion of the movie, even though you do know what happened more or less, it doesn’t make it any less difficult to watch. The way this moment is presented is also profound considering the circumstances of the current timeline and the situation that Ben is in the middle of. The Fundamentals of Caring found a splendid balance between the bleak and the inspiring moments which makes for a very, very good indie flick. I’m shocked that Netflix picked this up from Sundance but I’m happy they did because it deserves the kind of audience that only Netflix can deliver a film such as this. This is a brave and heart-filled project that doesn’t shy away from the shitty side of life.
Making a road trip buddy dramedy with one half of the duo being severely disabled could have turned into something out of a Farrelly Bros. movie but thankfully it didn’t go that route. Rudd and Roberts’ on-screen chemistry is among some of the finest of the year and it was nice to see a movie that shines a much deserved light on caregivers. The Fundamentals of Caring is a dark comedy that must be seen and thankfully Netflix has you covered, so do yourself a favour and check it out.
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