Stuber REVIEW – Does Not Earn a Five Star Rating

Not quite a Batista Bomb, but not that great either.

Stuber

Stuber feels very much like something that was put together by an algorithm of some sort. A random hodgepodge of witty one-liners, mostly all supplied by Kumail Nanjiani, mixed with the gruff and tuff of Dave Bautista, seems like a comedy match made in heaven. The two have some fun chemistry, but other than the occasional genuinely funny gag (almost all of which were in the trailers), Stuber ends up being a waste of the duo’s talents.

Vic (Bautista) is a cop who’s been tracking down a particularly dangerous drug dealer, Tedjo (Iko Uwais). The day that he gets valuable intel on where he might be able to finally stop the criminal just so happens to also be the day he’s had laser eye surgery. Unable to drive himself, Vic is forced to rely on Uber driver Stu (Nanjiani), who he shanghais into police work. Stu (you get the title now? These are the jokes here) is an unlucky chump who’s desperate for a 5-star rating, or else he’ll lose his job, so he has no choice but to participate in outrageous car chases and shootouts.

At least that’s half of his motivation. The other half is that Stu has the hots for one of his coworkers, Becca (Betty Gilpin). Becca dumps her boyfriend and gets drunk, which leads to her inviting Stu over. It’s Stu’s only chance at getting laid, because I guess this was written by someone with the mentality of a 15 year old, but he’s having a tough time getting to her with all the violent mayhem that’s ensuing around him. On top of all of that, it’s also the night of Vic’s daughter’s art gallery, and he hasn’t been a very attentive father as of late.

There’s too many cliches to list off that Stuber shoots for. It also gives itself and the audience a rest from the manic, shaky cam action every now and then to switch to a commercial for Uber. In the film’s climax, a caravan of Ubers show up to help save the day. Uber Eats is mentioned. The benefits of using UberPool are explained. You get it. There’s nothing too terribly wrong with seemingly relying on a single product or company to fund your movie, but at least try to be self-aware, otherwise it just feels icky. This is a comedy, for goodness sake.

Nanjiani holds the entire film together, saving it from being anything too bad. It’s not the worst waste of time, but I would still consider it exactly that: a waste of time. The characters are more annoying than interesting, poor Bautista is trapped in only being able to play “big guy that can’t see so haha that’s funny” slapstick. His character has things to work with: A personal tragedy that opens the film and losing the relationship with his daughter. But Bautista is never given a moment to reflect on any of this and show that he’s feeling anything. Instead, we’re told how he’s feeling by other characters outright stating it.

Besides the two talented leads, Stuber does have a little to offer in how hard it tries to come across as “woke”. A racist impression is called out as such (does that make it okay?), the majority of the cast are of color, and Vic and Stu represent two separate forms of toxic masculinity. Vic is the obvious angry, violent brute that won’t express feelings, and Stu is the more meek and empathetic but also unmotivated and indecisive. The film attempts to have a dialogue about the problematic sides of both and how a blend of the two is ideal. That much at least seems more thought out that the rest of the film, acting as the subtext underneath what’s supposed to be a wacky lampoon of the buddy action comedy genre (something that the movie often forgets it should be).

Again, Stuber isn’t terrible. There are some pretty solid laughs, and the odd couple pairing of Nanjiani and Bautista is gold. It just should’ve been used to better effect in a better movie.

Verdict
Stuber has a couple of solid laughs thanks to its two talented leads, but the rest is mostly stale and uninteresting.
5

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