Much like Uber, when your time with Michael Dowse’s new film Stuber is over, you’ll be happy your ticket price was fixed and that the meter wasn’t running. Though this new action-comedy starring Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista is a brisk 93 minutes, it’ll feel like a one star Uber ride that has you stuck in traffic. There isn’t anything egregiously bad about Stuber. However, it is another victim of a summer movie season that has been largely devoid of any quality. Stuber is just ultimately forgettable.
Nanjiani plays Stu in the film, a man who works at a sporting goods store and drives for Uber part time. Bautista is the archetypical tough guy detective, Vic. He loses his partner (Karen Gillan) to a heroin dealer (Iko Uwais) in a very poorly shot action sequence that serves as the films prologue. There’s virtually no logic to the sequence of events and right from the get go, the script seems lost. Its shaky cam action scenes ensure it is nearly impossible to decipher what is happening.
As Vic moves on six months later, he can’t let the case go, and his superior (Mira Sorvino) advises him to take time off. After getting Lasik surgery he gets a convenient break in the case but he can’t drive. In comes Stu, and a predictable ride from hell series of events is set in motion. Nanjiani and Bautista have okay chemistry. It is never unwatchable, but you get the sense that there isn’t that spark that is crucial to the buddy comedy.
Even the films subplots are bit hackneyed. Stu is dealing with his feelings for a girl who basically has him in the friend-zone, Becca played by GLOW’s Betty Gilpin. At the same time, Vic is the typical no-time-for-family cop who essentially neglects his daughter. Neither of the plot threads are particularly interesting and the script mashes them together in an unnatural and unsatisfying way.
Stuber wants to be Lethal Weapon but never rises to the fun style or quality of the former from a writing perspective. And, to a large degree, the two leads just don’t have the chemistry that Glover and Gibson did. It isn’t that every action movie has to be the same. But with Stuber, nothing is unique. It’s a tried and true conceit with nothing to add to its long line of predecessors that are just flat out better films.
Nanjiani and Bautista work with what they are given. Both actors have done better material and, will likely continue to do better material in the future. As a stand alone entity however, Stuber doesn’t work, and I found myself never truly laughing at anything in the film. Its gimmicks get old after a while particularly the running five-star rating obsession that Stu has. Stuber will eventually find its way on to cable network or streaming site and garner an audience. As studios try desperately to find more reasons to bring people to the theater, Stuber won’t change the minds of those who prefer the Netflix experience.
Have you seen Stuber? Or will you wait for an at home viewing? Let me know what you think!