Despite working in the care industry for numerous years now, I only have one day to my name when it came to working in home care. On that one day I spent most of it fishing out a bike from the canal as the little boy I looked after thought tipping such into the water would be pretty hilarious (for him maybe). My probation period ended abruptly that evening and that was it for me. Of course that brief occupational stint doesn’t make me an expert of the role but I quickly realised if you couldn’t bond with the individual you were going to struggle.
The Fundamentals of Caring covers a similar situation initially. Ben (Paul Rudd) is a failed writer who after a tragic accident involving his son aims to become a carer for Trevor (Craig Roberts), a disabled child with a wicked sense of humour. The similarities between me and Ben end there as these two form an unlikely relationship that convinces Ben to take Trevor out of his comfort zone on a cross-country trip in order to see a host of items (including the world’s largest pit) on Trevor’s bucket list. Along the way they pick up a foul mouthed Selena Gomez and a pregnant Megan Ferguson to add to the kettle of unlikely travelers but at the centre of it all remains Trevor’s experiences outside of his mundane routine.
The film has a lot of heart and is pretty sharp edged when it comes to dialogue and humour, but in all it’s your run of the mill self-discovery film. You’d be hard pushed to find something in Fundamentals of Caring that you haven’t seen before and the dynamic of isolated individual meets down and out mentor is a tried and tested formula that the director here didn’t feel needed to be improved on. Instead much of what the film rests itself upon is its performances. You don’t need me to tell you that Paul Rudd has irresistible charm and the other three give solid performances that keep the film plodding along at a relaxing pace. Nothing happens to push your emotions but it has enough moments that bring about smiles, mainly thanks to the quick whit of Craig Roberts who is becoming something of an indie pin up in recent years.
Unfortunately I was often irked by certain elements of the story that I struggled to get over. Trevor’s mother is written to be overprotective of her son to the nth degree, but she’s overly willing to let an inexperienced carer who has known her son for a few months to take him across the country with little awareness of what’s going on. Of course moments like these were simply building blocks for the story to stand upon, but for me that was a little shaky. The tongue-in-cheek achieving moment at the end of the film was also a bum note for me that was played too long.
That aside The Fundamentals of Caring is an easy watch for a Sunday afternoon. It does little to push you emotionally but still comes as enjoyable thanks to the cast and script. Though the film’s intention appears to be to elevate its audiences I can say hindsight hasn’t changed my memories of home care, but it probably was never going to. Though the film’s message surrounding the power of kindness is clear to see, Fundamentals of Caring isn’t a memorable enough feature for it to improve your well-being in the long run.