In Brief: A middle-of-the-pack buddy movie. If it’s your thing this is fun in spots.
Stu is bonkers over Becca. She’s in lust with a buff guy whose muscles have muscles and only sees Stu as a friend. Becca is starting a stationary bike exercise business and needs his financial help. So Stu — who works days at a sporting goods store and because he loves her — grabs a night job as an Uber driver to help finance the business.
No. This isn’t the rom-com movie of the week. While romance is part of the plot, Stuber is definitely a buddy movie. This one features a cop and a reluctant buddy.
It is also totally stupid. You’ve seen this film with different titles a dozen times. Other than the setup, this is very familiar territory. While that sounds negative, and while I didn’t love it, I did like the movie. Yes, it is predictable. And the genre is worn out. But I’m a sucker for buddy movies and for me this is guilty pleasure.
It might be for you, too.
Kumail Nanjiani’s Stu fills the buddy role. Dave Bautista plays the cop.
Bautista is Vic. He is a hardcore detective whose partner is killed by a notorious drug dealer. Vic wants revenge. When he learns the bad guy can be had that day, he jumps. Only one problem, Vic has just had eye surgery and can’t see.
His clever solution is where Stu’s Uber driver comes into the picture. Vic’s daughter loaded an Uber app onto his phone so he can get a ride to her art show later that day. About the time he’s ready to leave, Vic gets the bad man tip and plans for the show fly out the window.
Stu answers Vic’s call for a ride and the rest is buddy plus cop movie history.
There are a bunch of different ways to do this genre but all involve that all-critical suspension of disbelief. If you’re a fan, you start there, let go and laugh.
Not all of them work but when they do — and when they’re R-rated — they’re a blast. You know the characters are going to toss out as many expletives as bullets so when buddy-cop movies are done in PG-13 fashion, they’re too sanitized.
Plus, you can’t be as violent with PG-13 as with the harder R.
For me — and for many of you — Stuber works. Barely and not super well, but well enough to have you laughing and enjoying this brand of Uber ride.
Chemistry is the key to this brand of flick. Though both characters are as cliche as buddy-cop movies come, part of the comedy comes from contrasts. Vic is super buff, super gruff and single-minded. He just can’t be a nice guy and doesn’t even try. Any violent act is okay as long as you’re doing it to villains.
On the other side, Nanjiani’s Stu is a total patsy. He’s an Uber driver obsessed with giving five-star rides. He’s also the victim of unrequited love and one of those people who believe if we’re all just nice to each other things will be just fine.
Neither of those attitudes will get him five stars either.
The bulky Bautista (the Guardians of the Galaxy flicks) and the slim and fragile-looking Nanjiani (The Big Sick) are a pretty good team and play off each other perfectly. Bautista growls and grumbles and is ultra intense in bad guy battles. Nanjiani — who can be very, very funny — manages to tough it out while screaming a lot like a little girl.
Sometimes the screaming is funny. Most of the time it is not.
However, the Yin and Yang relationship fits both actors and they bounce off each other perfectly. The flaw — and the negative — is the plot and what happens within. That leads us back to my opening statement.
This is a buddy movie and a predictable one. No one is going to give this ride five star. And the definite set up for a sequel reduces that possibility even more. However, if this genre is your thing, for a buddy-cop movie, this one isn’t bad.
It’s fun in enough parts to recommend but dumb the rest of the time.
Director: Michael Dowse
Stars: Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Iko Uwais, Betty Gilpin, Natalie Morales, Karen Gillian, Steve Howey, Mira Sorvino, Jimi Tatro, Scott Lawrence
I’m a sucker for buddy movies with or without cops. Once you suspend disbelief, most of the time they’re — if nothing else — good for a laugh or two. That’s this one. Give it a reluctant positive review and a 3 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
Click here for theaters and show times.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.