“Stuber” stars Dave Bautista who most of you will recognize as “Drax” from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the star from “The Big Sick,” Kumail Nanjiani. If you think you couldn’t get two more polar opposite stars, you’re right. That’s exactly what they’re going for in this action comedy flick.
Stu (Nanjiani), an unmotivated big box outdoor store cashier supplementing his income through Uber, and Vic (Bautista), a remorseful detective, responsible for the death of his partner because his glasses broke in a shootout, get thrown together thanks to the popular cabbie app.
Vic, in an effort to assuage his guilt over Sara’s (Karen Gillan) demise gets LASIK surgery rendering him a bit of a detective Magoo. On a tip, he thinks he can track down Sara’s killer, but he needs a driver.
The craziness that ensues which depends on a less than tech savvy cop and a spineless driver finds a few right notes, but not enough and it falls flat.
As would be expected in this buddy cop flick, Stu and Vic plunge deeper and deeper into the chaos of drug dealers and murderers, pushing each other into uncomfortably addressing personal issues as they bond in the car. It’s a familiar formula that should be a fun popcorn movie, but instead it’s a repetitive platform for eyesight and Uber jokes.
Unfortunately, writer Tripper Clancy also incorporates a lot of jarringly brutal carnage and it is this unexpected twist that applies the brakes to any shred of humor and shifts it all into reverse.
“Stuber,” when it works and only seldomly so, is thanks to Nanjiani’s comedic genius; his timing, reactions, and his seemingly off-the-cuff comments. He knows his character and attempts to find any way possible to make him memorable.
Stu has many personal issues: his work life is in the tanks as well as his love life, all of this stemming from his all-time low self-confidence. Nanjiani works with this and creates a character that is not only funny, but grows even if it is in very predictable ways. But he alone cannot save the overall script or the other character’s roles.
Richie (Jimmy Tatro) is just as jarring with his comments as the violence and Nicole (Natalie Morales) never gets a chance to shine as Vic’s talented daughter who is looking for approval and attention from her father.
There’s more that doesn’t work in “Stubbier” and it’s Bautista’s one-note performance of “Vic.” He is a cardboard cutout and not able to carry the weight of the co-lead in this action-comedy. The interaction between he and Nanjiani’s character feels forced and stilted in every scene many of which are truly cringe-worthy.
The comedy isn’t always lost, however, as the mere physical difference between the two actors and the situations that occur seem to naturally create a few comedic moments. But Bautista’s “Vic” seems lost in his own world, never finding a way to become interesting or to be able to engage the audience, even with his issues with his daughter.
The writing is but a skeleton and director Michael Dowse cannot find a way to put some meat on the bones by pushing his other actors to create more than one-dimensional stick figures.
The film sputters along from one fight or chase scene to another, dabbling in a little bit of humor, but in the end, “Stuber” is just another summer casualty.