Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani in Stuber (Photo: Fox)
★★ (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Michael Dowse
STARS Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista
Just because the 1980s ended long ago doesn’t mean we’re not still entitled to receive quality “buddy” flicks.
While that decade saw these types of films — generally action-comedies where at least one of the twofer was a cop — breed like rabbits, recent times have tended to put the brakes on such endeavors, resulting in a steady trickle rather than a downpour. Some have been decent, like The Nice Guys (Gosling-Crowe) and Central Intelligence (Johnson-Hart). Some have been mediocre, like Stuber. With apologies to Foghat, this latest effort is a slow ride; perhaps Stupor would have been a better title.
In fact, Stuber smells like a project born solely from its moniker, with some wise guy thinking, “Wouldn’t it be funny to combine the name Stu with the notion of an Uber and come up with Stuber?” Presumably, that would be Tripper Clancy, who receives sole blame — excuse me, sole credit — for the screenplay.
Kumail Nanjiani plays Stu, a mousy Uber driver who lives in constant fear that his customer rating will slip below 4.0 (on a 5.0 scale). His latest pickup is Vic Manning (Dave Bautista), a detective on the trail of the drug kingpin (The Raid star Iko Uwais, criminally wasted) who killed his partner (Karen Gillan, checking out after the opening scene). The reason a cop would need to be chauffeured by an Uber driver? Because Vic has just been subjected to corrective eye surgery and is basically Mr. Magoo for at least a few more hours. Vic (who calls Stu “Steve” throughout) and Stu (who tags Vic as “Douche Lundgren”) bicker constantly, only breaking on occasion to gun down a few sneering perps.
Nanjiani occasionally gets off a funny aside, but for the most part, the comedy proves to be as anemic as the action. Marvel completists might want to check out the Guardians of the Galaxy reunion between Drax the Destroyer (Bautista) and Nebula (Gillan) in the opening moments, and those who’ve long wondered whatever happened to Mira Sorvino after the 1990s will breathe a sigh of relief when she turns up here as Vic’s boss at the precinct. Otherwise, there’s not much tread on yet another assembly-line mediocrity.