selena gomez hits the sweet spot in a noteworthy sundance showing

Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts are along for the ride too.

by i-D Staff and Colin Crummy
01 February 2016, 6:04am

In the new comedy The Fundamentals of Caring, Craig Roberts plays a teenager with muscular dystrophy and Selena Gomez his love interest, a sassy hitchhiker he picks up on a road trip. Like much of The Fundamentals of Caring, it's a pairing on paper that doesn't work. On screen, it largely does.

Selena doesn't actually appear until mid way through this alt comedy, the premise of which sees the disabled Trevor (Roberts) give his new caregiver, Ben (Paul Rudd) the run-around during their daily routine of meal prep, monitoring and arse cleaning. Trevor is English, living in the U.S. with his mum. Dad, meanwhile is A.W.O.L., another grievance to add to Trevor's long, list of grievances, some more understandable than others. His days are spent indoors watching telly and making brittle jokes about getting the Make a Wish foundation to grant him his dream of a blowjob from Katy Perry. She'd somehow manage to sing Fireworks at the same time.

At first Ben doesn't know how to handle the physically paralysed and emotionally damaged teenager. He has issues of his own, including bereavement and divorce. It could be heavy going all this but a smart, occasionally corrosive banter develops between the two leads which delivers some funny lines and an excuse to take a road trip in the Pacific Northwest to see some eccentric tourist spots like the deepest pit in the world.

Here Selena Gomez steps into the picture in a role that has gone over well at Sundance, though the compliment is somewhat backhanded, shaped by surprise that she is more than just Taylor Swift's BFF. But as Dot, a 21-year-old, heading to Denver, she adds an easiness to proceedings. When they pick her up at a diner, Dot immediately puts Trevor through his paces. She asks if his illness affects his brain, then his dick size. She is savvy enough to know a straight talking, dirty minded girl is exactly what he needs, not tea and sympathy. Like the road trip's premise - see some preposterous excuses for tourist spots - things threaten to head to Quirksville pretty sharpish but the naturalistic performances and some black comedy keep The Fundamentals of Caring on the map.

So Trevor and Dot's romance blossoms, and it is credit to both actors that they make it a plausible one. For Craig Roberts, it's further evidence of his rise on the other side of the Atlantic; for Selena Gomez it's a middle finger to anyone who thought she was simply pulled from the social media pages or Justin Bieber's back catalogue. 


Text Colin Crummy

Selena Gomez
sundance film festival
craig roberts
the fundamentals of caring