Review by J.T. Johnson
If it weren’t for the use and overplayed Uber references in “Stuber”, I would have mistaken this for a film from the 1990s that somehow got lost in 2019. The movie’s thin and ludicrous plot could have been saved had the laughter been a little more consistent. Unfortunately, most of the jokes fall flat in this action comedy starring Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista.
In the movie, Stu (as the title suggests) is an Uber driver. He works at a dead end job for an outdoor sporting goods store, but he uses Uber to make some cash on the side. He’s also in a dead end friendship with a woman who is simply using him and he’s too polite to tell her how he feels and lets her manipulate him.
Victor “Vic” Manning (Dave Bautista) is an aging cop that is an old throwback to characters that probably would have been played by Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone back in the day. The only problem is that his eyesight has gotten even worse over time, so he gets LASIK eye surgery. Unfortunately, a drug dealer he has been chasing for years has shown back up and he orders an Uber driver to take him around in order to try and find the dealer.
From there, it is one misadventure after another as this odd couple points out each other’s flaws. Vic points out how weak that Stu is while Stu points out Vic’s toxic masculinity and how he ignores the people he cares about due to the case he is pursuing. As can be predicted, both learn a little bit more about each other under these initial labels, but there are no laughs to go along with the rather generic story.
Well, I take that back. There are actually some laughs and even a couple of scenes where I thought the film might manage to at least salvage something, but it isn’t meant to be. For every joke that lands, there are ten more jokes that just don’t work and you’re reminded that this is one unfunny flick.
Being that it is an action comedy, though, one might wonder how the action part is, but you needn’t bother. Uninspired chase scenes and gun shootouts populate this movie and you forget all of them on the casual walk back to your car after the movie is over. So, there’s nothing for action junkies in the audience either.
What kills me is how this film wastes such a good and talented cast. Nanjiani and Bautista do have chemistry with one another, but there is just nothing here to let them utilize that chemistry. There are also supporting characters played by Karen Gillan and Mira Sorvino, but they are severely underutilized and just a reminder at what a huge waste of talent this movie is.
There have been a few attempts to revitalize the action comedy genre that used to be one of the studio norms. Like most of those, though, “Stuber” fails to bring anything new to the table in spite of having two leads that work well together and the occasional laugh. In a Summer that’s proving to be kind of light at the box office, this film will do nothing to set it on fire.