Action Comedy

Review: ‘Stuber’ Falls Short of Being a Five-Star Ride

July 11, 2019Sara Clements

In a recent interview, Dave Bautista was quoted as saying that he would never star in the Fast and Furious franchise because he'd "rather do good films." Unfortunately, director Michael Dowse's Stuber falls short of being good. While it's a movie that packs both physical and comedic jabs from start to finish, at least managing to keep the audience entertained, it ends up feeling as uninspired as its title.

Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) works in a sporting goods store by day and moonlights as an Uber driver by night, earning himself the nickname "Stuber" from his annoying boss, Richie (Jimmy Tatro). On one of Stu's Uber runs, he crosses paths with Vic (Bautista), a tough, hardheaded workaholic with revenge on his mind. It's been six months since Vic's partner was murdered and he ignores his grief by obsessively trying to find the killer. When he does, however, Stu just happens to be in the driver's seat. What follows is packed with near-death experiences for the pair, who stick together because Vic happens to be recovering from laser eye surgery, while Stu, afraid that his driver rating will continue to plummet, wants his five stars. It's pretty foolish, but luckily the forceful Bautista and the timid Nanjiani make a perfect team-up for a buddy-cop comedy.

As Vic is unable to see throughout most of the action, Bautista's physicality gets most of the laughs, while Nanjiani shows off his natural comedic charm. To the fault of the script, though, not every joke lands, but the pair work well with what they have. In a year that hasn't seen many good action comedies, it's also unfortunate that the fight scenes in this are so sloppy, especially when they involve a talented martial artist like Iko Uwais, who plays the villain role and spends most of his scenes being thrown around by Bautista. These set pieces are incoherent both in how they are shot and in their editing, and with Bautista being a former professional wrestler himself, it's sad to see both his and Uwais' physical prowess wasted.

That's not to say that Stuber doesn't manage to surprise, though. Vic and Stu spend most of the film bickering and screaming at each other, but through all of this, the movie turns their dynamic into an affecting discussion on masculinity. In a humorous way, the film manages to take two men on opposite ends of the spectrum and demonstrate that being a man isn't stuck in singularity. As a result, they both learn from each other; Stu learns how to stand up for himself, while Vic learns how to embrace his emotional side.

The script by Tripper Clancy hits familiar beats and sits comfortably in its clichés, but it's easy to excuse the movie's overall uninspired tone given that it features such an excellent and diverse cast (which also includes Karen Gillan, Natalie Morales and Betty Gilpin), not to mention the enjoyable misadventures of its leads. Stuber isn't a five-star ride by any means, but at least you'll come away feeling like an Uber expert by the end of it.

Stuber releases July 12th, 2019 from 20th Century Fox. The film has an MPAA rating of R for violence and language throughout, some sexual references and brief graphic nudity. Its runtime is 1 hr. 33 min.

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