Netflix A-Z: The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)

Next up on the Netflix A-Z after a little break is a Netflix Original called The Fundamentals of Caring released this year. Netflix exclusives have been quite good. More referring to TV series than movies since this is the first one I’ve seen, but the cast is cool. I like all three of the leads. Plus, Netflix A-Z is all about digging up some cool movies in the crazy variety of choices available. Fantasia Festival is going through a little gap of screenings so I’m taking the opportunity to catch up on this segment.

Let’s check it out!

The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)

The Fundamentals of Caring

Director: Rob Burnett

Cast: Craig Roberts, Paul Rudd, Selena Gomez, Jennifer Ehle, Megan Ferguson

A man suffering an incredible amount of loss enrolls in a class about care-giving that changes his perspective on life.-IMDB

The Fundamentals of Caring is odd. Its not exactly a bad movie but at some moments, it seems to take a rather predictable route for a movie that could have a bigger impact on our connection to the characters or to the situation itself. Perhaps that is the real problem: connecting with the characters. The premise it takes its a good one. Its one that as a drama or comedy or whatnot, it can take us on a fun and inspiring journey about a man who is a writer turned caregiver going through a divorce after losing a son in some way that is slowly revealed to us. Its about a teenage boy raised by a single mother whose father left when he was diagnosed and has never seen the world who gets the chance to finally see all the lame landmarks he has penciled in. And on the road, they meet up with a young girl who also is going by herself to Denver because she believes there’s more there while we also know that she is having issues with her father. Notice the connection of fatherhood going on (along with pain and loss).

the fundamentals of caring

Lets take a look at the characters. All of them do a decent job. Craig Roberts, plays Trevor, our main character who is a young adult suffering from muscular dystrophy since he was three. He carries a compelling role and in many ways does the best job out of the three main characters here. Maybe its because he has a disability and that this is his first trip and we start seeing a lot of his strength and braveness questioned and conquered. In the end, he is still a joker despite his situation. He pulls the most ridiculous jokes like faking choking and all that. But he also is interesting because his characters changes in moods quite a bit and in the end, he manages to show us that its not disabilities that make him different. In fact, seeing the world and encountering new things and having dreams come true even if its just seeing the World’s Deepest Pit, makes him a very real person. It reminds us that its the simple things. Just like the best moment and character defining moment is when he is asked what he would do if he could stand suddenly and he answers: to pee standing up.

One of the best moments are between Trevor and his caregiver Ben Benjamin, who is played by Paul Rudd. I can’t say that I connected with the character of Ben a lot. It is done fairly well that there is definitely something that is holding him down and it has to do with his son’s death but only get what happens afterwards and in between some hints of what happen. It also makes us question why he became a caregiver and it is an issue that is asked, which is a good one because this is where we also get to question his character and whether the deeds he does for Trevor is for himself or for Trevor’s benefit. The relationship between the two is the highlight of the film.

The Fundamentals of Caring

 Another thing The Fundamentals of Caring truly emphasizes is that Trevor is in control of his future despite his muscular distrophy. No one will judge him quite as much as himself if he lets it bring him down. Its what makes his first encounter with meeting with Selena Gomez’s character Dot, a somewhat run away hitchhiking young adult, seem fun. He is awkward and nervous like other boys seeing a girl they crush on but eventually finds the courage to just be himself. Except we can’t ignore Dot. While I feel like her performance is a little weaker and its also because she doesn’t have as much screen time but she brings a different energy on screen and perhaps a different humor. That can also be said for their next final pick-up off the side of the road as they pick up Megan Ferguson’s character, Peaches who is a simple-minded distressed mom-to-be.

The Fundamentals of Caring

However, it is hard to pinpoint what didn’t seem to go down so well. Maybe its that it still felt a little awkward but it seemed to want to have that teenage angst to it especially because the character Trevor has really only lived in his comfort zone. Maybe its that some of the relationships seemed rushed or not as able to connect to. It seems hard to think about the flaws and its empty when I can’t even pinpoint it but while its not a perfect film, the heart of The Fundamentals of Caring is there. It sends some good messages that perhaps may be wrapped up in a rather predictable storyline but it does work for the most part. Our characters are engaging and are different in their own issues that they deal with. They each teach us something different. In the end, its a rather heartwarming experience. You know what this is good for? A rainy day.

Have you seen The Fundamentals of Caring? What did you think?

G Selection is a drama thriller with Orlando Bloom. Any guesses?

Arthur and the Invisibles Trilogy (2006-2010)

Another little movies series!

Arthur and the Invisibles (aka Arthur et les Minimoys) has been on my to-watch list for a while.  Mostly because I really love Freddie Highmore in any age of acting.  He’s very impressive all the time and this one is adventure and animation all wrapped up together.  It sounds extremely fun! Netflix decided that it was going to expire in about a week the second and the third so I couldn’t watch those without the first one so I spent the weekend checking this out 🙂

Let’s see how it turned out!

Arthur and the Invisibles (2006)

arthur and the invisibles

Director: Luc Besson

Cast (live and/or vocal): Freddie Highmore, Mia Farrow, Ron Crawford, Madonna, Snoop Dogg, David Bowie, Jimmy Fallon

Ten-year-old Arthur, in a bid to save his grandfather’s house from being demolished, goes looking for some much-fabled hidden treasure in the land of the Minimoys, a tiny people living in harmony with nature.- IMDB

arthur and the invisibles

Arthur and the Invisibles or the Minimoys (as referred to in the movie also) is a fun family adventure animation.  I love movies that blend the whole live action and animated sequences and this movie transitioned between the two and used real life world blended into the animated worlds for different tools and names.  Its shows a certain level of creativity and imagination that makes it even more enjoyable.

When the movie starts, the  narrator takes us into the life of Arthur, who is an intelligent 10 year old that seeks to discover and explore the world and its mysteries.  He tries to figure out why his grandfather is missing and also save his grandmother’s home, leading him to his brave adventure to ask for the help of the Minimoys.  The vocals here are great.  Although, the plot here is a little generic and predictable and why I believe its mild enough for a younger audience and is probably targeted to a younger audience.  8-10 (?) years old might be my best guess.  I don’t have kids so I can’t really determine it.

Regardless, the best part of this was actually hearing Freddie Highmore’s actual accent.  Since I’ve watched Freddie Highmore, I’ve always thought he was American until a few years back when I realized he’s actually British.  Imagine my surprise, right? So its refreshing to hear that voice here, plus these movies work for the younger him.  I didn’t expect much from Madonna voice for Selenia but it was pretty good as well.  And c’mon, Jimmy Fallon is great in general so I don’t even need to mention that much about it. David Bowie does the voice of Evil M, the villain in this trilogy, although not voiced by him after this one.  Evil M is effective as a villain for an animation geared for a younger crowd, meaning I found him more funny than threatening 😉

Arthur and the Minimoys was a pretty enjoyable animation (more for a younger crowd). There were some slower parts but the sum of it was pretty good.  It keeps everything with a level of intensity that is well balanced with using natural elements in the human world and implementing into the world of the Minimoys who actually live underground and in the garden.  Creativity and imaginative points there as well.  I’d say to give it a watch if you get a chance 🙂

Arthur 2: The Revenge of Maltazard (2009)
(or Arthur and the Great Adventure)

arthur 2 the revenge of maltazard

Director: Luc Besson

Cast: Freddie Highmore, Mia Farrow, Selena Gomez, Jimmy Fallon, Lou Reed, Fergie, Snoop Dogg

Arthur answers a distress call from Princess Selenia, who is menaced by the nefarious Maltazard. – IMDB

arthur 2 the revenge of maltazard

Continuing on from the previous one, Maltazard (aka Evil M) returns with a cunning plan. I’m not going to lie to you.  I absolutely believe that Arthur and the Minimoys should have ended with the just the first one.  Continuing it was pointless especially when it was pretty hard to finish.  The second movie was so empty and boring that I fell asleep somewhere in the middle and woke up near the end and shut off the movie, to resume the next morning with a big cup of tea.  The vocal changes comes from Selenia (who doesn’t show up much) with Selena Gomez and Evil M is now voiced by Lou Reed (who I don’t think I’ve heard of before).

The majority of the movie is spent trying to get back to the Minimoys kingdom to answer the distress call.  So its a lot of venturing around, finding Betameche and then seeing characters from the last movie that helps them on the way.  I have nothing much to say about this one except that whole Evil M suddenly having a revelation that being little didn’t make sense and to take over the human world being his main goal was a little too much for my taste.

The animation is fine, the vocals were fine but the plot of The Revenge of Maltazard wasn’t really eventful or fun.  It felt a lot like the first movie replicating into the second.  You wouldn’t miss much if you had stopped with the first one in my opinion.

Arthur 3: The War of  theTwo Worlds (2010)

arthur 3 the war of the two worlds

Director: Luc Besson

Cast: Freddie Highmore, Selena Gomez, Jimmy Fallon, Mia Farrow, Ron Crawford, Robert Stanton, Penny Balfour, Richard Davis

With Maltazard now 7 feet tall and Arthur still 2 inches small, our hero must find a way to grow back to his normal size ans stop the Evil M once and for all, with the help of Selenia and Betameche. – IMDB

arthur 3 the war of the two worlds

With Maltazard now in the real world, the third movie is a blend of being in the animated Minimoys immersed in the real world with the live characters bringing Arthur’s extremely silly parents and his knowledgeable grandparents into the movie more.  That is a good thing because it gives this one a little more dynamic interaction and just a little something more.  Arthur, Selenia and Betameche also end up exploring Arthur’s actual life in their house as they find a way to stop the now full human size Evil M.

Although The War of the Two Worlds is a whole lot more fun and entertaining than the second one.  Trust me it is. There still is a little something that makes it feel unnecessary.  The second one ended with to be continued, which leads to this one, which made the second one feel even less important (more like a bridge).  There were some great moments during the whole process in the house and with the parents and M and whatnot.  The whole exploration reverse mode of the tiny Arthur trying to grow up again, focusing more on the inappropriate timing of the relationship between Arthur and Selenia.  It just felt like a ton of loose ends forcing to be tied up. Plus, the ending was just stretching it quite a bit.

arthur 3 the war of the two worlds

I’m not saying I didn’t have fun with this one.  I’m usually not too hard on animations but while this one was more fun, you actually have to get through the very boring second one to watch this one, making this not so necessary.  It entertaining and there’s a lot more adventurous moments here.  I leave it up to you whether you want to battle this through.  I hold true that if you have 8-10 year olds, they might enjoy it.


Arthur and the Minimoys was great decent fun.  The whole trilogy bit was a bit much though.  The second and third was not exactly necessary.  It kind of tried to give an extra mission for Maltazard and to cash some extra dollars.  The second wasn’t any fun but the third had some adventurous moments.  The premise itself is creative and imaginative with the characters and the details.  The vocals were pretty great.  The plot was the main thing that made or killed the whole movie experience in each of these.  By the end of the last one, I just didn’t really feel much for it. It killed the charm that I liked in the first one.  The more I think about it, the more I really wish I could undo those last two….haha!

Have you seen Arthur and the Minimoys? How about the whole trilogy? What did you think about it?

Spring Breakers (2013?)

Let me explain the question mark.  A bunch of you put Spring Breakers in your 2013 list and I can’t remember when it was released; IMDB puts it in 2012 and RT in 2013.  So I figured I’d go with the general public thinking its in 2013 and then it makes me feel better about getting another 2013 movie out of the way.  I need to know how this movie ended up in a lot of the best lists.  Lets check it out!

spring breakers posterDirector: Harmony Korine

Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Selena Gomez, James Franco, Gucci Mane

Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Cotty (Rachel Korine) and Faith (Selena Gomez) have been friends since they were kids.  They all go to the same college now and are bored with their current lives and want to experience more, have an adventure.  This motivates them to save money to go away for spring break. Through some unlawful and extreme ways, the girls get the money and head off to spring break where things get out of hand and they get locked up in jail.  To their surprise, Alien (James Franco) bails them out and they end up caught in a different sort of problems.

Spring Breakers is a flick that I’ve been not too sure about seeing.  For one, it doesn’t appeal to me but with all the positive reviews, I really wanted to see for myself.  A lot of times when I give chances to something different, it usually surprises me.  For Spring Breakers, its somewhat of a weird experience.  I started out thinking it was really bizarre.  It was a new in the sense that it used a lot of dazed out and hallucinatory (is that a word?) camera work.  Plus, the dialogue repeated a lot to emphasize a feeling, an emotion.  It felt broken and choppy, jumping here and there, flashing to naked chicks on the beach, booze and then flashing back to our four main characters.  Funny enough, all these things eventually did grow on me and it felt like I connected with some of the characters and just how they felt.  I’ve never been through their situation, goodness, no, I haven’t even experienced taking drugs.  I have no idea how any of that feels like and I was never a spring break girl, but somehow, it really was good at showing the deeper level of this flick.  There was something more that was expressed.

spring breakers girls

That scene up there is possibly one of the most innocent and fun scenes of the whole movie.  It was the good before EVERYTHING literally goes bad and these girls break apart in a certain way as they learn about themselves. While we are on the topic of the four leading girls here, I can’t help but say that if there was any initial reason to see this movie, it would be because of three of them.  Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez are from little teen movies back when they started.  I used to like them.  High School Musical is not so great to me now but back then, I did like it for a little bit.  Plus, these last few years, I’ve warmed up to Selena Gomez as well.  However, the one I really wanted to see was Ashley Benson because she is fantastic in Pretty Little Liars and seeing her do something outside of that role into this one was quite awesome.  I think other than Selena Gomez having a small and not so significant breakthrough, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson impressed me the most.

spring breakers alien

However, talking about performances, the one that really stole the show was James Franco as Alien.  Honestly, I almost didn’t recognize him.  As much as his character irritated me when he first appeared as the DJ going “y’all” over and over again.  I have to say that his character was unpredictable and that gave him that whole new edge which pushed it over the limits and made him so good to watch. My respect for James Franco probably doubled with this role. I was really impressed.

Aside from some good performances, I think it was the way the movie was presented that complimented the whole effect.  On top of hallucinatory scenes, repeated dialogue, the movie was full of shades of neon that only would work for a movie set between lots of partying and drugs.  This movie surprised me in a way that I wasn’t sure if I liked it because I’m pretty sure the beginning had me slightly confused with the characters but as it moved along, it really grew on me and I started really enjoying its bizarre set-up of everything.

I really think its worth a viewing.  If nothing else impresses you, try out James Franco’s role as Alien.  You might be as impressed as I am. 🙂

Have you seen Spring Breakers? What did you think of Alien? How about the girls? In your opinion was there a deeper meaning to the whole thing? Did you like it?