Parents' Guide to

The Fundamentals of Caring

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Unforgettable, poignant dark comedy has lots of cursing.

Movie NR 2016 97 minutes
The Fundamentals of Caring Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 14+

This title has:

Too much swearing
age 15+

An Entertaining Comedy-Drama

When I read Netflix's synopsis about The Fundamentals of Caring, I did not expect much from the movie. Given the somber premise, I thought it to be an incredibly mushy, overly emotional film. I have to say the movie exceeded my expectations greatly. First of all, The Fundamentals of Caring does well to avoid the tropes that one normally associates with the genre of the buddy comedy. It also pokes fun at the clichéd movie "disabled" person, one who is either larger than life or depressed with his life. What we get are two very original characters, Ben (played by Paul Rudd) and Trevor (played by Craig Roberts), who are just ordinary human beings. As original and well-written Ben and Trevor's characters may be, Dot (played by Selena Gomez) is not at all well-developed throughout the movie's run. More than Ben, Dot is the character that inspires Trevor to push past his limits and jump over his self-imposed hurdles. Although this is a crucial part of the story, the character herself does not contribute much other than blank expressions and explicit dialogues. This is both a fault of Gomez and of the movie's writers, as the character could either have developed so much more throughout the movie, or she could have had a smaller role in the scope of the movie. While the movie gets off to a strong start, it does not maintain this momentum as it progresses forward. It would have been beneficial for the writers to have stretched the movie's run-time in order to develop the climax more, as it felt incredibly rushed. While increasing the movie's run-time runs the risk of making the movie "too long," I find that a movie that is too short in length sabotages its chance of leaving a lasting impact on its audience. Despite the flaws in the writing of the movie, I found that Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts were phenomenal as Ben and Trevor. Paul Rudd is normally known for his comic roles in movies like Anchorman and Antman. However, he manages to deliver a natural, sincere performance as Ben, a grief stricken caregiver. It is in the quiet, subtle moments of the movie that Rudd manages to convey Ben's suffering and what he's going through. It is these moments that demonstrate that Rudd has a great deal of acting range if it's channeled by his directors. While I have been familiar with Rudd's work, I was not at all familiar with Craig Roberts' work. I recognized him from his small roles in 22 Jump Street and Neighbors (And I had no idea he was British!), but not much else. This movie definitely shows what he's capable of as an actor, and I hope it serves as a suitable launch pad for future roles in his career. His portrayal of Trevor definitely surpassed my expectations, as he gave the character a sense of humanity and avoided going for the clichés. Overall, I would recommend The Fundamentals of Caring to anyone who appreciates a good comedy-drama. While the movie is not perfect, it features two leading actors who are at the top of their game.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6):
Kids say (5):

This film manages the difficult task of being both a dark comedy and a poignant story. The balance keeps the movie from being too glib and smug due to too much of the former, and too mawkish and sentimental due to too much of the latter. As a middle-aged man in the throes of crisis, transition, and depression, Paul Rudd brings depth and nuance to his character, and as a teen boy stuck in a self-imposed routine, Craig Roberts, through the unforgettable Trevor, completely destroys the trite manner in which the disabled are so commonly portrayed in movies and television. The result is a buddy road trip movie like no other, a comedy filled with dark humor and dry sarcasm, but also a story filled with deep meaning, with so much clearly at stake for these characters.

Just when you think The Fundamentals of Caring is on the verge of committing the all-too-common indie-movie sin of making the characters a little too hip, clever, and hyper-aware for their own good, the suffering the characters have endured for far too long comes through, and the audience realizes that the hilarious sarcastic humor isn't shoehorned in by the scriptwriter, but is instead the defense mechanisms of characters trying to keep it together during a difficult time. While this is clearly due in part to the director, Rob Burnett, credit also goes to Rudd, Roberts, and Selena Gomez, who plays a teen runaway capable of as much caustic humor as the other lead characters.

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