The Fundamentals of Caring

The Fundamentals of Caring

Official poster
Directed by Rob Burnett
Produced by
  • Rob Burnett
  • Donna Gigliotti
  • James Spies
Written by Rob Burnett
Based on The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
by Jonathan Evison
Music by Ryan Miller
Cinematography Giles Nuttgens
Edited by Christopher Passig
Distributed by Netflix
Release dates
  • January 29, 2016 (2016-01-29) (Sundance Film Festival)
  • June 24, 2016 (2016-06-24) (Worldwide)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Fundamentals of Caring is a 2016 American drama film written and directed by Rob Burnett, based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Jonathan Evison and stars Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts and Selena Gomez. The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 29, 2016 and was released by Netflix on June 24, 2016.[1]


Ben (Paul Rudd) is a retired writer, who lost his son three years ago when Ben parked his car on their steep driveway and the car suddenly rolled down impacting his son, and whose wife is trying to divorce him, but he refuses to return the signed documents. Needing a new job, he takes a six week course to become a caregiver. He gets a job from an English woman named Elsa (Jennifer Ehle), a registered caregiver and bank manager, whose 18 year old son Trevor (Craig Roberts) has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Trevor is a sardonic, anxious boy with a fascination with American roadside attractions, and Ben suggests one day that they go to see some of them. Trevor initially refuses, and Elsa worries Ben is becoming too close to him, as Trevor's father left when he was diagnosed, only sending him letters throughout the years. Ben soon finds himself hounded by a court tracker hired by his wife and avoids his visits.

Eventually, Elsa agrees with Ben's road trip plan, and he and Trevor embark on a journey to the world's deepest pit. On the way there, Trevor says he wants to see his father, who owns a car dealership in Salt Lake City. Stopping at a gas station, the two meet a girl Trevor's age named Dot (Selena Gomez), who Trevor develops a crush on. When they encounter her again at a diner later on, they see her attempting to hitchhike, and Ben decides to give her a ride. Dot informs them on the way that she is heading to Denver to restart her life, and that her mother has died. As the three bond, especially she and Trevor, Ben notices a car that has been following them, and tells the two of it at a motel. He believes it is someone sent by his wife.

Further down the highway, the three find a pregnant woman named Peaches (Megan Ferguson), whose car has broken down. She is heading to live with her mother before the baby comes, as the father is currently on his second U.S. military tour. They give her a ride as well, and when they stop for the night, Trevor asks Dot on a date, which she accepts, and the two go to the diner across the street from them. Ben and Peaches watch through from the motel through the diner window, and can see it is going well. The next day, the four make it to Trevor's father's car dealership. When he meets with his dad, he informs Trevor he never wrote him letters, and that it was his mother this whole time, and his father stays distant. Outraged, Trevor berates Ben and tells he wishes to go home, but Dot insists they continue to the world's deepest pit.

The group eventually makes it there, in awe of the abyss. Trevor, Dot, and Peaches head to the bottom, but Ben notices the car that's been following them. He walks over, and finds it's not his wife's tracker, but Dot's father, who wishes to make sure she's safe. Ben then receives a call from Dot, who tells him to quickly come down. When he sees a crowd gathered at the bottom of the pit, he worries and finds Peaches has gone into labor. Despite being tormented by the memory of his son's death, he successfully helps deliver the baby. Peaches thanks him as she and her newborn son are taken to the hospital. In the parking lot, Dot sees her father and walks up to him, the two reconciling. When she comes back, she tells the two she wishes to go the rest of the journey with her father, and the three say their goodbyes, Dot kissing Trevor before she leaves, promising they'll text. With the assistance of the ambulance staff, Trevor gets to fulfill his wish peeing standing over the pit railing.

Ben and Trevor make it home safely, and having finally coped with the loss of his son, Ben meets his estranged wife and gives her the divorce papers. He continues writing, his next novel being about Trevor. He narrates his writing the last few lines, informing the audience that he eventually quit as Trevor's caregiver, but the two remained friends. On Trevor's 21st birthday, Ben went into his room only to find Trevor lying on the floor and his new caregiver crying on the floor next to him. Only to find out Trevor was faking. The caregiver quit the next day.



On October 11, 2012, Worldwide Pants' Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman acquired the film rights to Jonathan Evison's novel The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving.[2] Burnett would adapt and direct the film.[2] On January 7, 2015, Paul Rudd was added to the cast to play the male lead, which Donna Gigliotti and James Spies would produce.[3] On January 13, Selena Gomez also joined the film.[4]

On December 7, it was announced that the original title, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, had been changed to The Fundamentals of Caring.[5] It was later revealed Bobby Cannavale and Frederick Weller had been cast in the film.[6][7]


Filming began on January 22, 2015, in Atlanta, Georgia.[8][9] In early February filming took place in Cartersville, Georgia.[10] Filming concluded on February 26, 2015, after 26 days of filming.


The film had its world premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival as the Closing Night Film.[11] In January 2016, prior to the film's premiere at the festival Netflix acquired global distribution rights to the film.[12] It was released on Netflix on June 24, 2016.[13]

Critical reception

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a rating of 78%, based on 27 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10.[14] On Metacritic the film has a score of 55 out of 100, based on 10 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[15]


  1. Robinson, Will (April 1, 2016). "Netflix sets June premiere date for The Fundamentals of Caring". Entertainment Weekly.
  2. 1 2 Siegel, Tatiana (October 11, 2012). "Worldwide Pants Nabs Big-Screen Rights to Jonathan Evison's Novel 'The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving'". Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  3. Sneider, Jeff (January 7, 2015). "Paul Rudd to Star in Inspirational Indie Movie 'The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving'". Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  4. Yamato, Jen (January 13, 2015). "Selena Gomez Joins Paul Rudd In 'The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving'". Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  5. "First Look at Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts & Selena Gomez in The Fundamentals of Caring". Final Reel. December 7, 2015. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  6. Berkshire, Geoff (January 23, 2016). "Sundance Film Review: 'The Fundamentals of Caring'". Variety. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  7. Tartaglione, Nancy (May 30, 2016). "'The Fundamentals Of Caring' Trailer: Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts & Selena Gomez Hit The Road". Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  8. "Selena Gomez arrives in Atlanta to begin filming 'The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving'". January 19, 2015. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  9. "On the Set for 1/26/15: Michael Fassbender Begins Steve Jobs Biopic, Ryan Coogler Starts Rocky Spinoff & More". January 26, 2015. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  10. "Selena Gomez & Paul Rudd continue filming 'The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving' in Cartersville, Georgia". February 2, 2015. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  11. "SUNDANCE INSTITUTE COMPLETES FEATURE FILM LINEUP FOR 2016 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL". Sundance. December 7, 2015. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  12. Sharf, Zack (January 15, 2016). "Netflix Continues to Conquer Pre-Sundance With 'Fundamentals of Caring' Deal". Retrieved January 16, 2016.
  13. "EW".
  14. "The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  15. "The Fundamentals of Caring reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
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