THE MOVIE GUY — ‘Stuber’ has a few silly laughs, but not much else
20th Century Fox
2 ½ Stars
Funnyman Kumail Nanjiani is known for his low-key comedic style. He’s the last guy you’d ever expect to see in a buddy cop action flick. Muscleman Dave Bautista, on the other hand, seems like a natural fit for any action endeavor, and he proved that he has comic chops in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies.
The idea of pairing these two men up in the new movie “Stuber” is rather inspired. I know I smiled in anticipation of seeing how these two polar opposite actors would work together. I went into the film expecting that Nanjiani would provide the verbal quips while Bautista would handle the physical humor and most of the action.
That’s kind of what you get in their movie, although the final result isn’t quite as effective as I had hoped. Nanjiani plays Stu, a mind-mannered guy who drives an Uber as his second job. Bautista plays Vic, a hard-charging cop who happens to get a lead on a heroin dealer (Iko Uwais) just as he’s recovering from Lasik eye surgery.
Unable to drive, Vic flags down an Uber, and thus a mismatched buddy cop comedy is born.
It’s not a bad premise. Unfortunately, the police story is basic and utterly predictable. None of the action rises above what you see in almost any competent Hollywood action flick.
That’s a real shame because the bad guy is played by a truly amazing martial artist. The fact that his fight sequences left me cold is a major disappointment.
That leaves the comedy side of the equation, which turns out to be the film’s saving grace. Watching these two men bicker and bond over their ideas regarding masculinity evokes plenty of laughs. Bautista get a few moments, but it’s Nanjiani who really scores, turning throwaway lines into memorable bon mots.
I suspect that this will be a polarizing movie for many. The comedy takes a while to get going and it’s seldom raucously funny, despite the film’s R rating. Mix that in with the poorly executed action story and you have a film that’s hit and miss.
I think there’s enough hits to recommend “Stuber,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if many people call it a miss. The best I can say is that if you like Nanjiani’s work, you will enjoy his performance here. If you haven’t seen the actor before, this would make a pretty good introduction to this very talented comedian.
He’s talented enough to sort of salvage “Stuber,” but notably, he’s also talented enough to merit a much better screenplay for his next film.
Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are each week in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.