‘Stuber’ | Film Review: Buddy Comedy Short of Laughs

When it’s around this time during the summer movie season, you might expect some comedies that sneak up on you and catches you off guard by how surprising it turned out to be. Stuber is in that position as this latest action comedy could have a handful of good laughs or have no lasting impression whatsoever.

What’s the Story: When mild-mannered Uber driver Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) picks up a passenger named Vic (Dave Bautista), an LAPD cop who’s on the trail to tracking down a drug trafficker and longtime enemy of his, he’s in on a crazy adventure that’s unbelievably different from his usual night routes while trying to earn a five star rating.

Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani in Stuber (2019)

From the look at the trailers, Stuber looks like a comedic version of Collateral or a better take of Taxi. Remember that “classic” gem? But what sold me about this was the pairing of Bautista and Nanjiani in a buddy comedy that looks to harken back to the good ‘old days of having these kinds of storylines with people with completely different backgrounds. Plus, I’m usually up for a good action comedy if it has a good balance of both. When it came down to Stuber, it wasn’t that good, unfortunately.

Director Michael Dowse (Goon, Take Me Home Tonight) knows how to make this a quick ride as it’s only an hour and a half, and him alongside screenwriter Tripper Clancy had some potential to perfect this into becoming a crazy ride, and yet, it’s pretty silly. It also doesn’t help when the script just came off as lazy with no real surprises found. It was also predictable and just know what certain things will be revealed to no shock. Maybe a re-write would’ve helped to make this actually hilarious.

What Stuber has going for is the performances and on-screen chemistry with the two leads, and that’s what can be praised about the comedy. The unlikely pairing of Bautista and Nanjiani shouldn’t have worked, and it seemed like they had fun working together since they have a lot of scenes together seeing how different their personalities are. Bautista has shown to be a good comedic talent over the past few years. Nanjiani taking on another lead role is great for his career. I didn’t exactly care about either of their characters.

It doesn’t take a while to notice that he’s a terrible cop and father because of his fathering skills to his daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales), and the fact he was actually driving a car when he clearly knows he’s temporarily blind is problematic. On the other hand, Stu can’t confess to his best friend Becca (Betty Gilpin) that he loves her.

There was something about the action sequences that didn’t grab me like it should’ve, especially its use of shaky cam was distracting in the first five minutes. What surprised me was how violent it was due to multiple headshots, but when those scenes appear, it sort of losses its tone and try to add in a joke to make it funny.

Some might find this funny, but a lot of the jokes fall flat. Most of them were from Bautista not able to see well after recovering from Lasik surgery. Not that they were awful, but they weren’t well-written enough actually laugh. I think I mildly chuckled at least three times throughout.

Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani in Stuber (2019)

The rest of the supporting cast is fine, but most of them aren’t given much to work with. The likes Iko Uwais and my girl Karen Gillian were kind of wasted, to be completely honest. Uwais as the main antagonist doesn’t matter that much in the long run, and Gillan’s small role is understandable but still.

In all honesty, I wanted to enjoy Stuber as a fun summer comedy that I would recommend to others, but besides the few times of laughter and it definitely proves that Bautista and Nanjiani have good chemistry, this is just an action comedy that doesn’t work fully when it’s predictable and surprisingly unfunny. This is easily just a something that can be waited on when it comes out on Blu-ray.

Grade: C-

Cast: Dave Bautista, Kumail Nanjuani, Iko Uwais, Betty Gilpin, Natalie Morales, Mira Sorvino, Jimmy Tatro, and Karen Gillan

Director: Michael Dowse

Writer: Tripper Clancy

Runtime: 93 Minutes

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