Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Iko Uwwais, Natalie Morales
Director: Michael Dowse
Well, there’s one of these every summer. Stuber is 2019’s version of the generic summer comedy where our two main characters have major differences and disagreements but eventually learn to like one another through a series of wacky antics and misadventures (insert bicycle horn noise here). In all seriousness, if you went into Stuber with any expectations other than a generic plot with a couple of good jokes scattered throughout, then you’ll probably walk away disappointed. Stuber is the type of movie that knows exactly what it is and tries to do nothing outside of the perceived notions about it.
The film follows Stu (Nanjiani) a passive man working a dead-end retail job who drives for Uber on the side. When Vic Manning (Bautista) gets a new lead on a case he’s been working on for years but can’t drive due to his recent lasik eye surgery, he hires Stu to drive him around and unwillingly help him solve the case. Regarding the plot, you know exactly what’s coming before it even happens. It follows the same generic formula that every mainstream Hollywood comedy follows, but these follow that formula because it makes them money, so I can’t fault them for that. Moving on to the chemistry between Nanjiani and Bautista, this ends up being one of the highlights of the movie as the two clearly understand their roles and utilize a weak script to the best of their ability. The concept of toxic masculinity versus being too passive come up multiple times between the two and I honestly liked how this idea was handled. Essentially, being too aggressive and dominant will push people away and make you isolated from the world around you, but being too passive means you never end up getting what you want. I liked the way this message was framed, especially towards the end of the movie when we see the payoff, and wish that more formulaic movies would discuss this subject. On an individual level, Nanjiani ends up with most of the good jokes in this movie. Most of these jokes are self-deprecating and come at Stu’s expense, but it works within the context of the plot. I wish Nanjiani was the person writing the movie, as we’ve seen he knows how to make multi-dimensional characters in a way that Stuber never comes close to. The one thing that absolutely floored me with how poorly it was done were the multiple action sequences. The camera might as well have been thrown in the air and they used whatever they caught on camera while these fights were going on. Seriously, these fights are borderline unwatchable based on how loose and shaky the camera is. Could they have just mounted the thing and used editing instead? I know I didn’t come here for MCU-level fight scenes, but there has to be some level of care given to this. If they were going for laughs and how ridiculous these fight scenes are, then they should’ve given the audience a little bit of a heads up so that we could be in on the joke. That being said, Stuber exists merely to get some quicks laughs and make a few bucks and it does exactly that.
Overall, I don’t think anyone signed up to work on Stuber so they could finally get an Academy Award nomination. These are all people who just wanted to work on a fun project and they gave us exactly what we were expecting. There are laughs to had in Stuber, but don’t go into this movie thinking it will be the funniest one of the year. Nanjiani and Bautista can easily do better than this, but given what we got, it’s neither particularly good or bad.
Overall Score: 5/10