SHOULD I SEE IT?
The buddy/cop formula can still work, as Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista remind us.
Bautista and Nanjiani should be in, like, a dozen movies together every year. Their chemistry is off-the-charts great.
Though this is a movie you have seen numerous times before, over several decades now, Stuber still finds enough novelty in its premise to make it worth the time spent watching it.
Yeah, this is a movie you have seen numerous times before. Predictable, down to a very obvious twist; all of which may prove laborious to sit through if you don’t connect with its lead actors.
Definitely needs a better script. Nanjiana and Bautista’s apparent ad-libbing salvages much of the film’s stilted dialogue.
For some, the premise of a temporarily blind cop and an Uber driver named Stu will wear thin very quickly into the film’s running time.
For a buddy/cop comedy to work, you would theoretically want the more odd the pairing to come together and work as a team. How about this? 30-something Uber driver, Stu (Kumail Nanjiani), is hired by buff, ripped, grizzled police officer Vic Manning (Dave Bautista) to chase down a druglord (Iko Uwais) on the day Vic has undergone Lasik surgery.
Bautista, a former WWE champion, more widely known as Drax in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and Nanjiani, a comedic actor who earned an Oscar nomination in 2017 for writing The Big Sick with wife Emily V. Gordon. are a wonderful mismatched pairing. When you add in Bautista’s ability to perform physical comedy and Nanjiani’s deadpan comebacks, these two are gold together.
Their first collaboration, from a storyline standpoint, is nothing we have not seen before. Basically, Stuber, a portmanteau of Stu who drives an Uber (pausing now for a slow clap), is a movie we have seen dozens of times. Sure, nuances change, but nope: This is gonna be that movie where a cop befriends an unwitting civilian, forces him to help out, only to have wacky hijinks ensue.
In this instance, Stu works during the day as a clerk for an outdoor shop, managed by the owner’s immature 20-something kid (Jimmy Tatro). Picking up extra money with Uber, he is attempting to make good on his commitment to help best friend Becca (Betty Gilpin) open up her new Spin Cycle-like endeavor.
Concurrently, Vic has been chasing druglord Tedjo (Uwais is badly underutilized here…), and gets a break in the case - immediately after Lasik, which is not healing very fast. Debilitated though he is, Vic hires Stu and they are off!
In a Prius.
The jokes in the movie are better, I promise. The plot not so much.
Stuber is as predictable a movie as they come, the only thing left to discover is just how frequently the jokes land and how Bautista and Nanjiani work together. A twist late in the movie is telegraphed from miles away, and Vic’s disgruntled daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales - Dad always thinks of work first, of course), just knows Dad will not come to her art installation, which (and say it with me) is a really big deal to her.
Directed by Michael Dowse (What If), from a script by Tipper Clancy, Stuber attempts to be a throwback to the 1980s when Beverly Hills Cops and Stakeouts and 48 Hours-like movies were filling up the multiplex. We even have a character whose singular purpose seems to be to frustrate Stu with a continual dangling of a possible booty call. She exists really only to beg him to come over, then thinks twice about it, and then continually wonders when he’s coming over, only to then get drunk and doubt things all over again.
I mean. it’s 2019. Can’t we do better than this?
Even if you know exactly what you are getting and where this is all going, the fare is probably one worth paying. Stuber has no business being this entertaining. Silly, fitfully funny, with some hilarious scenes between its two main stars, there’s just enough chemistry and humor between Nanjiani and Bautista to salvage a film that desperately needed a spark to move past its rudimentary plot.
And after watching Stuber, one last thought: Can these two guys just be in everything together for a little while?
CAST & CREW
Starring: Dave Bautista, Kumail Nanjiani, Mira Sorvino, Natalie Morales, Iko Uwais, Betty Gilpin, Karen Gillan, Jimmy Tatro.
Director: Michael Dowse
Written by: Tipper Clancy
Release Date: July 12, 2019
20th Century Fox