Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Trailer Park Tuesday: The Fundamentals of Caring

Welcome to Trailer Park Tuesday, a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies.

As the end credits began to roll, I turned to my wife and said, “So, what did you think?” She shrugged and said, “It was okay for a feel-good movie.” “Yeah maybe,” I said, “but I felt good watching it.” It’s true that the new Netflix original movie The Fundamentals of Caring may not pluck a sentimental chord in everyone’s heart (my wife is a particularly tough critic) and it certainly has its flaws, but there are plenty of things to love about it, starting with the two leads, Paul Rudd as Ben Benjamin, a newly-certified caregiver and grieving father, and Craig Roberts as Trevor, the mouthy teenage boy with Duchenne muscular dystrophy who is Ben’s first client. Casting Paul Rudd in a movie is always a wise move for any filmmaker. He’s got a downbeat Everyman charm that can carry even the lamest script to the finish line (not that The Fundamentals of Caring’s script is lame). Rudd is matched note for note here by Craig Roberts, a sullen (but witty) teen who dreams of one day being either sexually-pleasured by Katy Perry or taking a road trip to see the World’s Deepest Pit...or, ideally, both at the same time. Third on his bucket list is being able to pee standing up at least once in his life. The Fundamentals of Caring follows the typical road movie playbook with snappy repartee between the driver and passenger, shots of a van traveling down a winding interstate at sunset, and the additional of other quirky passengers along the way (Selena Gomez as a runaway girl and Megan Ferguson as an “any-day-now” pregnant woman). But it’s the fundamental story which makes all the difference here. Based on Jonathan Evison’s novel The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving (the movie circumcises the title for the syllable-challenged, apparently), this is really all about how Ben learns to forgive himself for past mistakes. I liked how writer-director Rob Burnett’s script slowly doled out the backstory, peeling away the layers of Ben’s grief little by little so that we never fully know what happened until the end of the movie. By the time Trevor tells Ben, “This is not about meit’s about you,” we realize we haven’t been watching a by-the-numbers road movie, but a road map on how to be a good parent. At that point, The Fundamentals of Caring took on a richer, deeper meaning. And yes, it made me feel pretty darn good about watching it.

Bonus: the original trailer for Jonathan Evison’s novel.

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