The Fundamentals of Caring
Director: Rob Burnett
Writers: Rob Burnett, based on the book by Jonathan Evison
Featuring: Craig Roberts, Paul Rudd, Selena Gomez, Jennifer Ehle, Megan Ferguson, Bobby Cannavale
Ben Benjamin takes a six-weeks caregiver course just to get back into the jobs market after a terrible family tragedy causes him seemingly insurmountable grief and sorry that ends in him being unable to continue his career as a writer and destroys his marriage. His first role as a caregiver sees him looking after British teenager named Trevor who suffers with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. After the two get used to each other’s quirks and a spiky bond develops they end up going on Trevor’s dream road trip after he has spent his whole life staying in his home. Once the road trip begins their lives will never be the same and nor will the lives of the people they meet as they travel together.
Paul Rudd was the perfect choice for the slight film. He has enough ability to play a damaged broken man whose basic, decent, humanity is just under the surface. Alongside fine Welsh actor Craig Roberts you have two likable leads who when they are on the screen together you believable the love-hate bond that develops into true friendship. Add in Selma Gomez, who I am proud I recognised when she popped up in the film, be fair I’m 56, and Megan Ferguson as their eventual travelling companions and you do have a good mix.
The film has a feeling of Little Miss Sunshine about it but if it is really in that company it is the reserve player who does not get to put the kit on match day. That’s not to say it is a bad film and the main players add plus points to your viewing pleasure. The problem I had is that for a film featuring and A player Paul Rudd and huge teenage sensation Miss Gomez it felt slight.
Despite Trevor’s very real and very time-limiting disease I never felt any real sense of danger or doomed finality about it. This type of film can be a cliché-feast and unfortunately The Fundamentals of Caring does fall into a fair few of the traps. It does not want to be sentimental, but it is. The story and director try to fool you with a few false clichés, and these are pulled off well, particularly the deepest pit scenes but even so I was calling what was going to happen most of the way through the film.
All in all, not a bad film, more of a Sunday afternoon watch, but well-acted and filmed and it moves along at a decent clip, so you do not get bored. Selma Gomez and Megan Ferguson are engaging female characters at the opposite end of the character arc, chalk and cheese, in lesser hands they could have been annoying. Nevertheless, something is lacking.
Being from the British Isles the part that did take me out of the film was Craig Roberts being obviously Welsh and his mum. played by Jennifer Ehle, trying out her best English accent as an American actress. It is possible but it does not really make sense.
However, the biggest film’s biggest failing will not count for anyone unless they read the excellent source novel by Jonathan Evison, read that and you get a different much better story and you’ll wonder why the makers got a chainsaw and completely and disrespectfully dismembered the whole thing. Genuinely reading the novel turns this film from a 6 out of 10 into a 2 out of 10 film.