Sometimes you have to forgive a movie for what it is. Fundamentals of Caring is one of those beautifully manufactured stories that is perfectly aimed to make you care and provide catharsis. You forgive it because it manages to do this without coming across as some kind of TV movie or After School Special. The success of that trick is in large part due to director/writer Rod Burnett’s adaptation of Evison’s novel, which remains and chooses to be decidedly adult in its focus. And, if it isn’t clear through most of the story that is the case, the climax of the story, the great moment upon which the success of the mission is celebrated, will solidify it for you.
In addition to the tale itself, this wouldn’t have worked without the cast that Burnett assembled. Paul Rudd (Captain America: Civil War) and Craig Roberts (Red Oaks, Being Human) work great together as a comedy duo; blithe and calculating, but each wanting to make a connection. Pepper in Selena Gomez (Rudderless), whose tough and independent character as a sort of bubble-gum lip-glossed dark fairy who forces out the truth, and you’ve a fun combination that will constantly catch you just a bit off-guard.
The story reminded me a bit of Come as You Are, which is another darkly funny story that riffs on at least a little of the same ideas. This earlier film is just as decidedly, if not more, mature, though quite different in its approach and tale.
There is a lot to enjoy in Fundamentals. Even if the result seems a little too familiar at times, it manages to keep its own identity. Think of it as a familiar joke told very well… and just enough new bits to keep it fresh. And, when done well as this is, that is more than enough to make for an enjoyable evening.