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Stuber – Movie Review

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Stuber – Movie Review

Rating: C (Average)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy 20th Century Fox

The concept for Stuber has the potential to be a funny one, putting together a mismatched pair typical in cop comedies and using the popular ride service app Uber as a jumping-off point. Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani have proven their comedic chops in previous projects, further elevating the promise of this film. While a few chuckles emerge, Stuber doesn’t quite hit the needed laugh ratio as it jumps from set-up to action set-piece. Even with a short runtime of 93 minutes, this still feels like a long ride with a story about as uninteresting as the jokes being presented.

The movie doesn’t waste too much time introducing us to the protagonists and their situation. There’s a possibility for interesting drama in police officer Vic and his Uber driver Stu’s individual arcs, as both deal with their own problems. However, the story ultimately doesn’t matter much and it’s not a terribly exciting tale, anyway. The central conflict, with Vic in search of a dangerous drug dealer, isn’t all that compelling. The initial set-up of Vic dealing with post-laser eye surgery has promise, although there’s also the risk of Stuber turning into a Mr. Magoo movie. However, director Michael Dowse and screenwriter Tripper Clancy only focus on Vic’s temporary blindness when a joke at its expense is needed.

Nanjiani gets a few humorous remarks here and there, but he’s not given enough material to work with. It does feel like there was a certain amount of improvisation, but there were probably more inspired line readings that could have been used. The supporting characters are especially disappointing. Stu’s subplot, with a woman he has an attraction towards, relies more on sex jokes than anything else. His boss at a sporting goods store is obnoxious, which is intentional, but not particularly funny. Karen Gillan is unfortunately wasted as Vic’s former partner. Mira Sorvino and Natalie Morales are given their own underwritten characters, too.

There is a fair amount of action here, mostly of the gun shooting variety. The opening sequence is difficult to watch, due to a heavy use of shaky-cam. Dowse calms down for the rest of the movie, although some distracting camera work still makes it in. The cinematography aside, there is some decent choreography and Dowse knows how to use his locations to solid effect. There is the standard dynamic of Stu not being fit for this kind of job and Vic having a deadpan reaction to everything. There is also the expected gross-out reaction to all of the blood and guts everywhere.

Stuber could have been funny, especially with the pairing of Nanjiani and Bautista. Maybe the film is better served by walking in blind, as this is a classic example of some of the better jokes being spoiled by the trailer. Even then, Stuber isn’t able to rise above standard and doesn’t do a whole lot with its premise. It’s not completely laugh-free, but the jokes don’t register as much as they should and that’s a disappointment. There is a lot that could have been done, but Stuber rests on easy sitcom jokes and improvised banter most of the time.

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE

 


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