The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)
Written by Jonathan Evison (book) and Rob Burnett (screenplay)
Directed by Rob Burnett
“I told you I only date assholes.” ~ Dot
“Yes, and I’m not an asshole. And since you want an asshole, my not being an asshole makes me more of an asshole than the assholes that you normally date, because they’re giving you exactly what you want, whereas I, by not being an asshole, am not. Which makes me an asshole.” ~ Trevor
“I can’t believe I actually understood that.” ~ Dot
Five minutes in and I knew I was going to like this film. A bit more than five minutes in, when I realized that the majority of the movie would be “on the road” my heart did a little two-step, and that gypsy soul of mine who LOVES road trips did a twirl, and I knew I was going to love this film. And yes, I did love it.
Meet Ben Benjamin, beyond his unfortunate name (I mean, it isn’t even superhero-ish in its alliteration), he is a seemingly stunted individual who has a vacancy about him that is initially undefined. We see him reluctant (to say the least) to accept the reality of his pending divorce, and we meet him at a crossroads, pleading somewhat with a mother and son to be given his first shot as a caregiver.
We learn soon that Ben’s vacant demeanor is caused by grief and a PTSD-type haze that paralyzes him momentarily with flashbacks of his deceased young son. Ben is searching for something – redemption? Maybe. Forgiveness of self? More than maybe. A new hope? Yeah, I think so. Ben definitely needs a chance at something.
Meet Trevor. He is wheelchair bound with limited capacities. He’s sarcastic and dark humored and also grieving, but in a more resigned way. He is definitely in need of a chance and some kind of hope and an adventure outside of his TV room and meals of frozen waffles and short trips to the park.
We also have Dot. A runaway/hitchhiker/gypsy on her own way to redemption-adventure-new chance at something. They make up an unlikely trio who will have you laughing and caring a lot. This could have fallen into over-sentimentality and tragedy, but it never did. It has tons of heart, but also humor and realism and damn likable characters who are all significantly flawed.
The writing is sharp in this, wit with a heart of gold. The performances are tops, especially Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts and Selena Gomez. Please, please, please put Craig and Selena in more films.
There are some twists in the story, and there are some predictable moments, but the film is not based, nor hinged, on either. This is about people, about family – both the ones we are born into, and the ones we choose, about firsts, and about chances.
The movie made me laugh more than cry, though I did do both. It also made me itch to go on a real road trip, with ridiculous roadside attractions as the main, and multiple, destination(s).
This one has definitely made the list of a favorite films.
“This is what road trips are all about.”
This is the Only Time We Have :: Ryan Miller