So I’m sure we’ve all heard the recent comments from Dave Bautista stating how he would never do a Fast & Furious type film noting he would “rather do good films”. Well Dave, I’ve got a news flash for you. If “STUBER” is what you are bringing to the table instead, then you might want to re-evaluate that comment just a tad. The past few Fast & Furious films, while by no means great, are Award material in comparison to ‘Stuber’ as at least they are so bad that they are good. And that my friends is not an easy accomplishment. ‘Stuber’ on the other hand, is really just brutal, absurd, unfunny, and tasteless, with very few if any, redeeming qualities.
The film centers around a highly aggressive LAPD officer Vic (Dave Bautista), looking for a brutal heroin dealer, Teijo (Iko Uwais). However, he cannot drive to the locations that he needs to go to due to his recent Lasik surgery affecting his vision. As a result, he gets in an Uber with the mild-mannered Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) who is desperately trying to keep his star rating up, as he needs this second job because he has just invested in his secret crush’s Becca (Betty Gilpin) fitness business. In one of the most implausable storylines ever written, he instead ends up having to keep going around with Vic to various crime scenes and assisting him no less, to stop the dealer.
Basically – Imagine every cop movie cliche: death of a partner, neglected and resentful daughter, a case that’s being “kicked up to the Feds,” a big score that’s “going down” right when the cop is supposed to be at his daughter Nicole‘s (Natalie Morales) big art show, a crooked cop, and on and on. Then add massive gunfights with plenty of heads spurting blood, a death in the first five minutes of a character meant only to give the cop another reason to be on the case. Give the cop Lasik surgery so he has to stumble around and use Uber. Add “jokes” that are as limp as cooked spaghetti and as dated as The Terminator, plus the ongoing humiliation of Nanjiani’s Uber-driving character as well as of the actor, and you have “Stuber” in a nutshell.
Given the popularity of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, I thought the idea for a buddy comedy about this could be both entertaining and timely. Unfortunately, this was a dreadful attempt at action comedy that has some surprisingly visceral action scenes, yet fails miserably at virtually every other aspect. The film’s plot generally consists of going from point A to point B and point C, which is fine, but the story’s narrative never manages to take any structural risks. As a comedy, “Stuber” falls pretty flat. None of the jokes or “points” of the narrative really add up to much significance. The more over-the-top moments in the film tend to rely on shock value just for the sake of it, unlike the better R-rated comedies that balance wit, irony, and strong writing with over-the-top content that we’ve seen this year.
Bautista’s acting is so bad that I am embarrassed for him – and while the saving grace of comedy jokes here is by far Nanjiani, he is just not strong enough to carry an entire film. The only thing worse than Baustista’s acting was hearing so many people in the audience laughing at the violence and not at the jokes. And while Bautista has a huge fan base that I’m sure will love him in this, I can only speak for myself when noting this might be the one that changes their minds. The film’s supporting characters are also embarrassingly written as their characterization is both paper-thin, most especially our villain Teijo who doesn’t even speak till the very end. You know my motto ‘a good villain can make or break a film’.
While the film’s surprisingly intense and violent action is generally well-choreographed, that is the only thing recommendable about this otherwise disastrous action-comedy. Even though Stu wants to earn a five-star rating in this movie, the film itself is only deserving of 1 star.
Media Review Screening: Tuesday, July 2, 2019 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
“STUBER” WILL BE IN THEATERS WORLDWIDE FRIDAY, JULY 12, 2019