Stuber is the story of two very different men whose lives unexpectedly intersect. The first is Vic (Dave Bautista), a hard-nosed cop who has spent the better part of a year chasing that one perp who slipped through his muscly fingers. Immediately after eye surgery, Vic gets a hot tip related to his case but obviously can’t operate a motor vehicle in his current condition. This leads him to call Stu (Kumail Nanjiani), a socially-awkward Uber driver dealing with his own relationship problems and insecurities. Once paired, the two go on a wild ride as Vic tries to bust the criminal that has eluded him for so long.
What works in Stuber is the third act. Through the majority of the film’s setup director Michael Dowse (What If, Goon) struggles with cadence, but once the climax begins Stuber becomes fully absurd and is all the better for it. When the two leads permanently embrace the complete ridiculousness of their situation, the fun follows complete with witty banter, gratuitous action sequences, and inexplicable explosions.
While Stuber has an enjoyable free-for-all finale, the rest of the proceedings are woefully mismatched. This begins with Bautista and Nanjiani. While these two actors are individually gifted, in Stuber they consistently perform as if in two separate films. What’s even harder to reconcile is that they each act with manners that would not suit any normal rational person, yet the severity and execution of their actions and dialogue are oddly disjointed. The result is that audiences are likely to appreciate one character or the other, but not both. What Stuber needs more of is Vic’s daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales) who does her best to ground the proceedings doling out of doses of reality as a quasi-audience surrogate whenever she’s on screen.
The other surprising element of Stuber that has potential to throw audiences off guard is that it uses its R-rating not only for foul language (and minor nudity for comedic effect), but also rather extreme violence. This also contributes to the aforementioned issues of unevenness as the graphic nature of these moments are jarring compared to the rather silly quips and puns that often bookend them.
Stuber is an amateur improv show after an audience member screams out “buddy cop movie!” as a suggestion. There are instances of greatness from both Bautista and Nanjiani that will undoubtedly elicit laughter, but the aimless inconsistency is likely to irritate.
Recommended if you enjoyed: Cop Out, Taxi
FINAL GRADE: C-
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