Directed by: Michael Dowse
In the action-comedy, “Stuber,” an average and broke Uber driver, Stu (Kumail Nanjiani), is faced with an unusual challenge: driving around a temporarily blind cop who is on a mission to capture a dangerous killer. Determined to hold on to his five-star rating, Stu must enter the life of violence and crime for a day, as he is forced to embark on this wild adventure with cold, humorless Detective Vic (Dave Bautista).
Some might say that this buddy comedy features a very unlikely pair of starring actors. However, I think that if “Stuber” has anything positive going for it, it is indeed, this wonderful casting. Both comic-turned-actor, Kumail Nanjiani, and wrestler-turned-actor, Dave Bautista, are two of the most underrated but still up-and-coming comedic forces. As some might already know, Kumail Nanjiani was nominated in 2018 for a “Best Original Screenplay” Oscar for his film, “The Big Sick,” a romantic comedy loosely based upon his real-life relationship with his wife, Emily Gordon, whom he wrote the script with. Although Nanjiani was well-known for his stand-up comedy, as well as his work on Silicon Valley, “The Big Sick” was a star-making performance for the actor, gaining him a solid fan following, despite many still not knowing exactly who he is.
Dave Bautista, on the other hand, can best be described as “The Rock 2.0” — and yes, I am talking about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Not only did Bautista and Johnson both get their start in the ring, but there are many similarities between the actors and their work and brands that make them appeal to the same genre and audiences. You might recognize Bautista from his more famous role of “Drax the Destroyer” in “The Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise, as well as a few “Avengers” films. With these MCU films under his belt, as well as “Stuber,” and his upcoming, more family-friendly film, “My Spy” along the way, it is safe to say that Bautista is about to blow up on the cinema scene, but will he truly take The Rock’s place? Stay tuned…
To bring the focus back to this particular film, “Stuber,” it is safe to say that it is just one of those action-comedy flicks that you will probably laugh at a few times in the theater but never remember or even come close to touching a DVD for it again. As I expected going into the film, Nanjiani was most definitely the greatest part about it, for if you already enjoy his quick-witted humor, you will enjoy his presence in the film. As far as Bautista’s performance, I have seen him in more charming roles, but I think the main issue lied within his character and the not-so-great script than within his comedic performance.
Speaking of the script, it was entirely too stiff for my liking, or any critic’s liking. (Hint: its rotten score of 45% on Rotten Tomatoes.) Although Nanjiani’s “Stu” provides many laughs and even laugh-cries for some, the film itself is dull and predictable, making the film’s overall pace extremely slow. Perhaps the largest issue with “Stuber” is that it could not make up its mind on whether it wanted to be a comedy film or an action film. Let’s use the “Jumpstreet” franchise for a quick case study and comparison. The “Jumpstreet” films are very much like this one: cops chasing down crimelords, or druglords, in this case, all the while producing a cult-classic because of its rowdy, non-stop humor and charming friendships. Therefore, these films remain relevant today because of their successful mixture of both the action and comedy genres. “Stuber” did not succeed in any of this. Do I think it had the potential to succeed? Absolutely. But with a barely mediocre script like this one, something tells me it was a challenge from the get-go to make this movie a winner.
All in all, “Stuber” is an OK film for a summer flick and although this is not necessarily a bad film, it is not a decent one either. If you do decide to see the flick, expect R-rated, gory violence and mediocre humor throughout. And no, the two do not complement each other in this case, so once again, do not expect a spectacularly silly cop film like “21 Jumpstreet.” I give it a 5 out 10, and only this high of a score for Kumail Nanjiani, who is as always, the best part of any film.