Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista star in a 93-minute-long Uber commercial, but it has enough laughs to get you from Point A to Point B.
WWE star Dave Bautista ("Guardians of the Galaxy") grows his acting resume with a film that is right up his alley, giving him a chance to be an action star and a comedic straight man. His partner-in-crime is comedian Kumail Nanjiani ("Silicon Valley"), who basically plays the nervous nerd character that he's given us with every other one of his roles. Together, they form an unlikely but mildly successful comedic duo in "Stuber," a movie that doesn't quite know what it's trying to be but is light enough for it to qualify as harmless entertainment.
Bautista plays Vic Manning, an aging LAPD officer who loses his partner in the field to a slippery drug-trafficker (Iko Uwais) and dedicates all of his time to tracking him down. Stu (Nanjiani) is dreaming about getting with his co-worker Becca (Betty Gilpin) and working two jobs, moonlighting as an Uber driver...and not a very successful one. Some bad luck (and some racist reviews) have lowered his rating close to the 4-star mark, and if he gets one more bad review, he'll be unable to continue with Uber. That's when Vic hails Stu's all-electric vehicle and proceeds to pretty much kidnap him, as he escorts and assists Vic who is hot on the trail of his Moby Dick.
Did I mention that Vic just had LASIK eye surgery so he is nearly blind? Yes, the contrivances are poured on thick, so thick that it's pretty hard to swallow most of what happens. But if you just let the seat back and go along for the ride, you'll experience a few laughs for every occasional groan.
The action isn't all that memorable, but it is plentiful, so much so that at times you might wonder if "Stuber" considers itself an action movie with jokes, or a comedy with some action thrown in. The balance is never really achieved, and the premise is so thin that you'll find yourself wondering if the idea of this movie should have stayed in its screenwriter's (Tripper Clancy's) head. I'm not convinced it shouldn't have.
And yet, I like Dave Bautista as a comedian...he carries a look in his eyes as if he too is laughing at the jokes, but it makes him endearing. And as a fan of Nanjiani, I couldn't help but wonder if he is capable of anything more than just being sarcastic...he has great comedic timing but in the vein of other comedians like Amy Schumer, his schtick is starting to grow tiresome.
I feel like people won't mind "Stuber," if you can take that as a positive review. It's an escape, and it's a movie built for the now as it probably doesn't have much of a shelf-life...could "Stuber" be destined for cult status in the future once kids start asking "what's Uber?", in the same way that payphones and landlines look uncomfortably outdated in "old" movies?
"Stuber" is just OK, with it's script in need of a serious Lyft...er, lift.
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime.
Run Time: 1 hour 33 minutes.
Starring: Dave Bautista, Kumail Nanjiani, Mira Sorvino, Natalie Morales, Karen Gillan, Iko Uwais.
Directed by Michael Dowse ("What If," "Goon," "Take Me Home Tonight").
"Stuber" opens everywhere on Friday, July 12th, 2019.
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