STUBER

Comedy is a genre that relies greatly on its stars. Sure, the writer’s jokes need to be funny, but the actors need to make us laugh with the right timing and delivery. A comedy film can get by with a rote plot and characters because those funny people can carry us through with hearty laughs. However, while they may make us laugh, if they’re given nothing to do with the script they’re given, we’re not laughing as often as we should. Sometimes, they’re the only things that are keeping the film afloat. 

Stuber follows Stu (Kumail Nanjiani), a meek and mild Uber driver who lives a life of being pushed around. He ends up picking up LAPD Detective Vic Manning (Dave Bautista), who is on the hunt for the criminal Oka Teijo (Iko Uwais). While Stu just wants to go spend time with his friend Becca (Betty Gilpin), Vic forces Stu to drive all over Los Angeles to look for clues and bring Teijo down. 

This is a film that is entirely carried by Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista (thankfully, he’s a big guy). I think they’re two incredibly funny guys, while also being solid actors. Bautista is clearly far more talented than Nanjiani and thus gets way more of the drama to work with here, but that’s no slight to Nanjiani. He still makes whatever limited dramatic moments count, even if they fall flat story wise. He and Bautista have terrific chemistry with each other, playing off each other in hilarious ways with their contrasting personalities. While I didn’t buy the development of their relationship at all, I never got tired of seeing them together. There were a few times I was cackling, but unfortunately, those moments were too few and far between. When the situations and dialogue allow for it, Nanjiani and Bautista really shined and had me in stitches. I would definitely watch another comedy film with them in it again, because they’re a phenomenal pair. 

I just hope it will be better, because it’s all stuff we’ve seen before. This checks every buddy cop cliche box in the book from the opening scene. The plot is as generic as it gets, with Vic going after the criminal who killed his partner Sarah (played by a wasted Karen Gillan) and dragging Stu around the city to find whatever clues he can. There’s the element with Stu being in the “friend zone” with Becca and overcoming that, as well as Vic’s strained relationship with his daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales). Aside from one nice moment at the end, it’s completely predictable and is everything you’ve ever seen before. The action scenes aren’t all that great, basically boiling down to car chases and shootouts, although they do provide for some funny moments with Stu being horrified by all of the violence. The worst part about the action is that it’s shoddily directed, which is almost offensive when you have Iko Uwais as your bad guy. I love how huge this guy has gotten since The Raid and he’s probably only in the first and last ten minutes here. His charisma is wasted with a nothing character and you can’t tell what’s going on at all in his brief fight sequences with Bautista. It was your typical terrible action direction with shaky cam and choppy editing. These two are known for doing crazy stunts and putting their bodies through physical tolls. You couldn’t keep the camera still to show them off doing these stunts? 

Stuber could have been a disastrous bore, but thanks to our two leads, it’s mostly just an incredibly mediocre comedy. It really goes to show how important getting the correct talent is, because they can sometimes save the film. The biggest shame about Stuber is that it’s actually a pretty great premise. It is really just a buddy cop movie, but with more creativity in the plot for funnier scenarios for the characters to go through, we could have had a really fun comedy film on our hands. Maybe they can try again with S2ber Eats

4.5/10

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