The film opens with the laughter of a child, both endearing and mysterious. We meet Ben (Paul Rudd) who is going through a rough patch. What little we know is that his wife wants a divorce and he is now seeking work as a caregiver. Quiet and seeming lost, he applies to work with Trevor (Craig Roberts), a young man with a form of Muscular Dystrophy. He is caustic with a dark sense of humor. But he picks Ben to be his caregiver. Ben and Trevor have an evening where they spar angrily, Ben upset with Trevor’s games. When he starts to apologize to Trevor’s mother, she reveals that Trevor asked about a road trip with Ben. At first, Elsa (Jennifer Ehle) is certain her son should not go. But she relents, and that is when both Ben and Trevor find their lives altered.
This is not an original tale, and there are many a road story following people learning important lessons. And yet, I found the film worked quite well. Paul Rudd is charming as always, and Craig Roberts gives a rough edge while still being likable as Trevor. Selena Gomez’s Dot is a likable (foul mouthed) performance. The film is the story of wounded people finding they cannot be fixed by each other…but they can forge a path of healing together. Mainly through passing standing up.
The film manages plenty of humor and is heartfelt. Rudd’s Ben has been dealing with tremendous heartbreak and his relationships with Trevor, Dot and Peaches (picked up later in their trip, played by Megan Ferguson) are unintentionally redemptive. I confess, I can be more than a bit of a sap. That can color a film for me. I enjoyed the performances and storytelling. Along with that, the film has an effective alternative folk soundtrack featuring mainly indie artists.
All in all, I found The Fundamentals of Caring to be an emotionally satisfying watch with uplifting performances.