Review by James Lindorf
Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) works at a sporting goods store, but to open his own business, he needs to make a little extra money driving for Uber. He puts everything he can into being the perfect driver: an extensive music collection, all kinds of chargers, bottled water, and even fancy Canadian chocolates. Through a string of lousy luck, Stu is teetering on the edge of dropping below 4 stars, losing his side gig and losing his chance to impress Becca (Betty Gilpin). Things go from bad to worse when he picks up Vic (Dave Bautista), a grizzled detective who is hot on the trail of a ruthless drug kingpin who murdered Vic’s partner. Stuber was directed by Michael Dowse and also starred Iko Uwais, Natalie Morales, Jimmy Tatro, Mira Sorvino, and Karen Gillan. This 20th Century Fox production has a runtime of 93 minutes and will be released nationwide July 12th.
If Stuber were a car, it would have designed in the 80s when other models of buddy cop movies like 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon and Tango and Cash were all the rage. Dowse, along with writer Tripper Clancy and Producers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, took the classic model and gave it a shiny facelift with modern out of the box stars and jokes that squarely date the film late in the 2010s. Despite the facelift, there is still some 80s rust left over, like a surprising number of homophobic jokes.
Like most action comedies, your enjoyment will be in a direct relationship with how much you enjoy the odd couple at the center of the story. That is the one thing that Dowse and the casting department nailed. The dichotomy of Nanjiani and Bautista couldn’t be any vaster. They have different acting styles, degrees of physicality, and their characters even represent a modern vs. old school approach to what it means to be a man. The gruff and quiet Vic and the overly courteous chatter box Stu make for a perfect pairing.
For those that find fault with the movie, it could be with a plot that is overly predicable, containing no significant twists and turns, or maybe with the action which is filmed close up with quick edits to add intensity. Some might take issue with the humor that is, at times, too crass and too juvenile to reach all audiences. Working in its favor, however, is a relationship between the two leads that carries you through a runtime that never seems to drag. Stuber may not be a 5-star ride, but it won’t have you ready to tuck and roll right out of the theater.