A relatively humorless summer box office gets a welcome infusion of R-rated, gloriously profane, action and comedy. Stuber will have audiences rolling in the aisles with laughter. A twist on the buddy cop, opposites attract genre, the hulking Dave Bautista and hysterically meek Kumail Nanjiani are mismatched gold. The odd pairing riff through every lull in the plot. They’re a dynamic duo that keep the chuckles coming. Stuber is much more entertaining than expected.
Stuber takes place in Los Angeles during a blistering heatwave. Grizzled veteran cop, Vic Manning (Dave Bautista), has spent months searching for a murderous drug dealer (Iko Uwais). Vic’s poor eyesight has been the bane of his existence. He finally decides to get Lasik eye surgery on the day of his estranged daughter’s (Natalie Morales) art gallery debut.
Kumail Nanjiani co-stars as Stu, a mild-mannered retail clerk that moonlights as an Uber driver. Stu has been stuck in the friend zone for years with Becca (Betty Gilpin). Vic learns his primary target has a massive heroin deal going down. Hellbent on justice and nearly blind recovering from Lasik, Vic is forced to use the Uber app his daughter installed on his phone. Stu’s hope for a five-star rating becomes a drive to survive, just when Becca needs comforting after a breakup with a star athlete.
Stuber‘s success lands squarely on the shoulders of Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani. The actors feed off each others energy with good comic timing. Vic, the embodiment of masculinity, is constantly at odds with Stu’s nurturing, effete life outlook. This conflict of personas becomes endearing as the film progresses. The barbs, pratfalls, and bloody violence build to a strong camaraderie. Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani are extremely likeable protagonists. Their casting was an inspired choice.
Stu’s electric powered Nissan Leaf is both a savior and prop for ridicule. The leads shuttle between scenes with the smooth hum of carbon free emissions. Films of this ilk are usually loaded with turbo charged vehicle carnage. Stuber has road raging gun battles a plenty, but from a gleefully different perspective. Director Michael Dowse (Goon) gets a lot of humor out of Stu’s environmentally friendly ride. The car could get third billing in the film.
Stuber‘s breezy premise has the characters always moving and engaged. It makes up for the razor thin plot. What does become grating is the nonstop product placement. The film is a ninety-minute advertisement for Uber. I can’t help but wonder what the title would have been if Lyft or Gett shelled out more dough for the naming rights. Stugett and Slyft doesn’t roll as nicely off the tongue, but I’d bet the producers could have gotten creative with more sponsor money. The same goes for the Stu mobile. He isn’t driving a bullet-riddled Tesla.
Stuber is a great vehicle for the talents of Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani. They’ve done well as character actors, but certainly have the chops to carry a summer film. Stuber is loaded with big laughs. The film is produced by 20th Century Fox and distributed by Disney.