Based on the novel The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, Rob Burnett's Netflix orginal film The Fundamentals of Caring, starring Pull Rudd, Craig Roberts and Selena Gomez, received its UK premiere at this year's Edinburgh Film Festival, and my verdict on it is in!

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Suffering from a personal tragedy, Ben (Paul Rudd) is a retired writer that, after enrolling in a 6 week caregiving course, goes out looking for work and takes it upon himself to care for the rather rambunctious teenager Trevor (Craig Roberts). Trevor has Duchenne muscuar dystrophy and spends his days watching TV, eating waffles and mapping out absurd American landmarks, yet never wanting to go out his house for too long himself. When his overbearing mother Elsa (Jennifer Ehle) has to go away for a few days, she reluctantly agrees to let Ben take Trevor out on a trip across the country to visit some of the aforementioned destinations (like the world's deepest pit). Along the way, they pick up wild runaway Dot (Selena Gomez) and pregnant mother Peaches (Megan Ferguson), and soon the group are out on a crazy, fun roadtrip of self-discovery and adventure.

There's certainly plenty of genre cliches on offer here, and director/writer Burnett isn't one to shy away from adopting the conventions and tropes - we have an emotionally crippled father; a disabed teen yet to realise the wonders of the world; our sassy character in need of self-realisation and a roadtrip of self-discovery for everyone involved to top things off. Yet, the sharp screenplay just so brilliantly takes this material and elevates it from being just another "cliched, teen, coming-of-age drama". Burnett's writing here is witty and wonderful; this film is suprisingly quite funny at times. The dialogue also feels genuine and organic - not quite as contrived as most of these films tend to be. You find yourself caring (fundamentally, of course) for the characters and you invest in their stories and their relationships, because of how real they feel and because of how well-written and fleshed out they are.

The acting matches this too. Everyone is great in their respective roles. The supporting performances are very solid; Gomez, especially, is a standout as the rebellious Dot. The young actress is immensely likable in the role, also bringing a lot of warmth and humour to the character too. However, The Fundamentals of Caring is all about Rudd and Roberts and the pair give excellent performances. The former brings a lot of heart and levity to the proceedings as Ben, whereas Roberts is almost the opposite; he brings plentiful charisma to Trevor, we empathise for his character but not because of his situation and more so because of how likable and just audacious the character is - slowly winning the audience over with his charm. The chemistry between the actors is splendid too and you really believe all the relationships here, from the father-son bond between Ben and Trevor to the latter's love for Dot. The actors all bring such heart and energy to the proceedings here and it's truly infectious; this is a movie that is just so damn charming and fun to watch. Sure, it's funny and it has its endearing moments of profanity but, for the most part, its just fun and so contagiously energetic.


Burnett's sophomore feature is far from flawless, however. As I mentioned, it is riddled with cliches and conventions. Now, whilst the screenplay embraces these for the better, you can't help but feel a sense of deja-vu when watching this. The finale also feels a little rushed too, with some uneven and rushed storytelling and pacing coming in as we wrap things up. It's nothing major but it does kind of deflate what came before, seeing as the resolution to such a great story isn't as equally resonating. Although, these are really just some minor gripes in what is an otherwise great film. The Fundamentals of Caring may not hit hard in the feels or have you gaffawing with laughter but it finds a nice blend of both emotion and humour to make for a pretty funny, endearing little picture that is undeniably charming and tons of fun to watch too. Catch this while you can; believe me, it's worth it.

THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CARING IS AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX NOW.

VERDICT:
Whilst there may be an overbearing sense of deja-vu to it all, you can't help but care fundamentally for The Fundamentals of Caring, for its big heart and infectious energy will win you over; this is a hilarious, endearing and wildly charming good time.


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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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