Review: The Fundamentals of Caring

We were looking for a feel-good movie recently and after scouring the internet for what to watch on any of the streaming services, this little gem came up as an option. Starring Paul Rudd, this movie is about Ben Benjamin, a new caregiver dealing with his own life trauma trying to help care for the typical ornery disabled teenager—though ornery for good reason I suppose.

At first, it seems kind of sad for a feel-good movie, but we continued on as Rudd is his typically lovable self, even if a bit depressed. Ben (Rudd) is inexperienced, but our disabled teen, Trevor, chooses him (likely to harass him) and the journey begins.

There’s a lot of truth in the film, as I think many people go into fields like therapy, care-giving, etc. to fix themselves more than to help other people, and Ben is no different. Though he claims to just “need a job” I think his underlying motivations is to somehow do enough good in the world he can perhaps forgive himself. It’s great when there are these subtle motivations that a movie hints at and never really spells it out. I feel like many movies these days practically shout the motivations to save time or because of lazy writing or both.

It may be obnoxious to some that they don’t tell us right away why Ben is so broken, but instead give us little bits of flashback until we finally uncover the traumatic event that led him to care-giving. I really like when a filmmaker takes time to set up the story instead of bludgeoning us over the head with some kind of point.

The bro chemistry between Ben and Trevor works so well, too. Trevor harasses him at first as a means to control his own life, but when he realizes Ben can see right through him, and treats him like a human being instead of a broken boy to be pitied, you can see the change occurring. That’s some great writing and some great acting.

I know Hollywood is all about the superhero movies these days or anything that can make them money, and I feel like we have too few slice of life pieces like these. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Marvel universe, but it’s nice to just have movies about every day people in every day life.

I highly recommend you see this one, though it’s a bit more mature, so probably not for younger kids. We watch these when the kiddo is in bed.

Rating: A+

Friday Flix: Skyfall

Last weekend I was Stoked. I listened to Adele sing about Skyfall had my ticket purchased for the movie in IMAX, and rewatched the preview a dozen times for good measure. This, they said, was the epic James Bond movie. Some even dared to say the best Bond movie ever.

The movie opens in a beautifully cinematic way, very artsy as James is tracking down some villain no doubt. Eventually we end up in one of the greatest rooftop chase scenes of our time. The action is already more than worthy of a Bond film.

I suppose I should note the extreme possibility of SPOILERS in this review, which will stay minimal until the point of no return, which is coming up. But for now, if you’ve seen the trailer, I’m not spoiling much.

So James and Bad Guy are on the train fighting over “the list” and James’ fellow agent upon orders from M accidentally shoots James. The Bad Guy gets away, James might be dead (except we know he won’t be), and as he sinks into the water the Adele song kicks on with a fantastic Bond opener with scenes we will later realize might have made the rest of the movie more exciting.

Part of me at this point is thinking—since I’m a student of story—hmmm, interesting choice for an inciting incident. Seems an awful lot like a climax, but it’s only been what, 5 or 10 minutes. Despite odd images of deers (yep) and a constant kick back to some house in the opening credits, I’m ready to continue on.

Okay, people. Point of no return approaching.

I’ve given you a week to get Skyfall seen, so before the SPOILERS fest begins, I’ll say for those who still want to see the movie knowing as little as possible about the story, here’s why for me Skyfall was Skyflunk:

  1. Love Interest. Technically there are two Bond girls in this film and their characters are both fairly interesting on the surface, but one the relationship doesn’t last for more than a couple scenes and the other seems more like a buddies relationship than a romantic one. We need someone for James to be charming with, and since these girls are usually a part of his motivation for saving the world, well… More on this later.
  2. Villains – Major and Minor. Don’t misunderstand, there’s nothing wrong with Javier Bardem’s performance. In fact, he’s really the highlight of this whole thing. But he was squandered. What I would have liked to see is him messing with James’ head more, a bit of psychological wits with occasional brute force until the final showdown. Alas, not. As for the minor villain, he ended up being more like a henchman than anyone all that formidable.
  3. Daniel Craig. Loved him in Casino Royale. It made me think, Yes! This is the Bond we’ve been waiting for. Ditto on Quantum of Solace. Ditto on the first part of Skyfall. The rest of the film he seemed drowsy or disinterested. What happened to the charmer I’d grown to know and love? He had a few good moments, but nothing like the previous films.
  4. Skyfall.What do you think Skyfall will be? Some kind of secret mission to take out the enemy? Maybe a satellite or evil supercomputer? Some impossible mission where James barely comes back alive? Nope, it’s this:

    James Bond’s old trike. He named it Skyfall because it used to be blue and when he went off a jump it seemed like he fell out of the sky.

    Okay, not really, but honestly that’s what it kind of feels like. I don’t know why they didn’t call this movie Aston Martin or Martini. It’s about the same level of exciting. Don’t purposely mislead us in the trailer.

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