I resisted watching The Fundamentals of Caring for a long time. Male leads, male writer and director. It didn’t seem like what I was looking for. But one night when there was absolutely nothing else to choose, I pushed play on The Fundamentals of Caring.
My son was around and got interested because he likes the star Paul Rudd. He watched it all the way through with me. We agreed when it was over that it was “a good flick.” Success. Time well spent.
Craig Roberts plays Trevor, a young man with MS who goes through caregivers like the Donald goes through firmly held positions. Into his life comes Ben, a depressed, newly-minted caregiver played by Paul Rudd. The two of them are immediately good for each other.
Ben and Trevor tease each other without mercy. The bullshit detectors work overtime with these two. The chemistry between them is outstanding. Most of the film’s funny moments happen between Ben and Trevor.
Trevor never goes out of the house. He eats the same food for every meal. He puffs up with teenage bravado, but he’s scared of everything. Everything. Especially talking to girls.
Trevor’s mom (Jennifer Ehle) gives Ben permission to take Trevor on a road trip to see some of the things he’s fascinated by. The deepest pit in the world, the world’s largest bovine, and other world record holding oddities.
On the road, Trevor grows up in giant leaps with Ben’s help. He gets some help from a hitch hiker named Dot (Selena Gomez) they pick up along the way. She likes Trevor, isn’t put off by his disability, and brings him out of his shell.
They also pick up a pregnant girl named Peaches (Megan Ferguson) and make a heartbreaking visit to Trevor’s long absent dad (Frederick Weller).
Their adventures lead them to arrive at the World’s Deepest Pit. After getting everyone’s heart broken by absent dad, Trevor manages to do something he’s always wanted to do where it is the longest and deepest place on earth he could actually do it. Three cheers for that.
Under the surface of the road trip adventures run themes around grief, coming of age, health, love, fatherhood, and courage. The fatherhood theme dominates. Ben is grieving for his own lost son. Trevor has a father but the guy is an ass. Dot turns out to have a father who will go to any length to make sure she’s safe. Dot’s father is played by Bobby Cannavale in a tiny part. The Fundamentals of Caring is a look a what makes a father, who makes a father, and how fathering is done.
The Fundamentals of Caring is heartwarming. It gives you hope for the strength and resilience of the human spirit.