Kind of a dogshit weekend for new movie releases, wasn't it? "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn's new fashion-world horror flick "The Neon Demon" looks appealing only from a "I feel like gratuitous violence" stance, a state I find hard to wriggle into on a hot summer afternoon. And there's not enough cannabis/Jeff Goldblum on Earth to convince me that sitting through all 129 minutes of "Independence Day: Resurgence" is a worthwhile endeavour.
So I fell back on what's become the standard alternative to seeing something in theaters and fired up the Netflix to find the streaming service had released a new movie of its own. "The Fundamentals of Caring" is a sorta-schmaltzy (but forgivably so) drama about struggling writer Ben, played by Paul Rudd, as he takes a job as a caregiver for sarcastic teenager Trevor, played by Craig Roberts, who has a form of muscular dystrophy and an fondness for waffles.
Banter ensues, bonds are developed, Slim Jims are consumed and road trips to see bad tourist traps across the American West are taken. And it's fine, if not particularly ambitious — there's some pretty good chemistry between Rudd and Roberts, who share the screen more often than not. It also falls into a cushy middle ground of foul-mouthed comedy, complete with the kind of heartfelt dick jokes that even your mom can't help but chortle at.
"The Fundamentals of Caring" doesn't need much more said about it — it's a relatively innocuous road trip movie with a relatively likeable cast (save Selena Gomez's character Dot, who is forcibly wedged into the road-trip love-interest mold) doing some relatively entertaining things. But it's also a perfect example of the sweet spot that Netflix seems to be going for with selecting original movies to debut on its site — quality enough to generate some word of mouth but not so particularly engrossing as to command the audience's full attention at all times.
It's a pretty snap judgement when selecting something to watch on a streaming service. The commitment factor is turned way down, and in a way serves as a built-in answer to the climbing ticket prices at the theater. Movie you're streaming happens to be a piece of shit? Turn it off straightaway and skirt any feelings of resentment you might have felt as a hostage to the $9 you shelled out to see "Alice Through the Looking Glass" or some similarly hyped-up muckety muck.
Breezy films like "Caring" play to this strength of choice in that they're something you can feel all right with throwing on in the background, concentrating more for the highlights and wandering away to make a sandwich during the lulls without worrying about getting your money's worth. "Caring" and films like it aren't likely to be the deciding factor on getting an on-the-fence viewer to start subscribing, but they bolster the back catalogue of movies that do no harm and give a soft cushion stumble back on — especially on weekends when new releases at the local Cineplex just aren't doing it.
More Nixon: coloradodaily.com/columnists