Stuber 2019 Movie Review

Stuber is a 2019 American buddy action comedy film directed by Michael Dowse and written by Tripper Clancy. It stars Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Iko Uwais, Natalie Morales, Betty Gilpin, Jimmy Tatro, Mira Sorvino, and Karen Gillan. The film follows a mild-mannered Uber driver named Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) who picks up a passenger (Dave Bautista) who turns out to be a cop hot on the trail of a brutal killer.

The film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 13, 2019 and was theatrically released in the United States on July 12, 2019. Stuber was produced and released by 20th Century Fox. The film received mixed reviews from critics, who criticized it for not taking full advantage of its potential but praised Nanjiani and Bautista’s chemistry.

Plot

Stu Prasad, a meager Uber driver obsessed with getting his first 5-star review in the app, is forced by an aggressive Los Angeles Police Department detective Vic Manning to drive him around town to catch notorious drug lord Oka Tedjo. For Vic, it is especially personal, as Tedjo had murdered Sara Morris, Vic’s rookie partner, six months earlier. However, Vic is unable to do the task alone as he recently got a laser eye surgery that prevents him from having good sight.

Along the way, Stu deals with Vic’s deranged behavior while trying to express his feelings to his friend Becca. Stu and Vic confront each other about Stu’s inability to man up while Vic is called out for his toxic masculinity and negligence toward his daughter Nicole as it draws similarities to the attitude that Vic’s own father had shown him.

Clues lead Stu and Vic to travel to various locations in Los Angeles, such as Koreatown, then a male stripper club and a house in Long Beach when Vic detains a key suspect of his investigation and rescues a dog Stroker (Pico) from being drugged to hide the evidence. However, Stu accidentally shoots the thug in the leg and Vic leads them to an Animal Hospital where a group of thugs find the two and try to attack them. While Stu is scared, Vic manages to take control of the situation by making Stu throw dog food cans at the thugs and shooting those who got stunned.

Vic, using the phone of one of the thugs, sends a text to their leader to inform of “his” death and then runs to Nicole’s museum exposition to warn her about the impending danger. Meanwhile, Stu struggles to keep his relationship with Becca, a friend and partner of his in an upcoming spin biking gym who is heartbroken due to a fight with another love interest and is wanting him come to her home to get drunk and have casual sex, however Stu is more interested to date her instead.

Eventually, the two face Tedjo at the location of his drop, where Vic finds that Captain McHenry is a dirty cop who has been working with Tedjo and was planning to frame Vic for murder to get him off their trail, while Stu does admit he loves Becca, but then realizes it wouldn’t work since he knows she doesn’t feel the same way and that they shouldn’t even be friends.

Stu and Vic work together to take down the villains, but Nicole ends up in the mayhem when she finds them and is nearly shot by Tedjo. Stu takes the bullet, and Vic almost kills Tedjo before Nicole stops him, and the cops arrive to bring Tedjo to justice.

After Stu and Vic recover, they become good friends while Vic finally gives Stu a 5-star review in Uber (despite the $5534.95 fare he has to pay him), and Becca has started up a successful spin biking business, though she obviously is still mad at Stu for leaving her. Vic arrives at Nicole’s for Christmas, along with the dog he found earlier, only to discover that Nicole is dating Stu.

My Personal Thoughts

tuber is as bland and generic a mismatched buddy action-comedy as you’re likely to find. The screenplay, credited to Tripper Clancy (no relation to Tom), is less a fully formed story than a series of checked boxes. Movies of this sort normally head direct to the oblivion of video on demand, but apparently the participation of Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani was sufficient to encourage 20th Century Fox to dump this into theaters. It’s hard to see it gaining any traction. The movie doesn’t do anything well and it’s an open question why anyone would pay money to see a reworking of a premise that offers so little. What was fresh in the ‘80s hasn’t merely grown stale in the intervening decades but has developed some mildew as well.

For any action-comedy buddy film to work, it has to excel in at least one of its three prime categories. If the action isn’t of the white-knuckle variety and the comedy doesn’t provoked side-splitting laughter then at least the interaction of the two protagonists has to engage and entertain. In Stuber, the gunfights and chases are pedestrian, the humor is at best uneven, and the Bautista/Nanjiani chemistry is M.I.A. While Bautista seems at home providing a low-rent Rock, Nanjiani’s awkwardness is a detriment. Oil and vinegar are supposed to make something delicious when shaken but, in this case, they separate quickly.

The movie works for about five minutes. Stuber opens by introducing L.A. cops Vic (Bautista) and his partner, Sara (Karen Gillan), as they prepare for a high-profile bust at the Staples Center. The banter between these two is easygoing and genuine (owing, one supposes, to their previous collaborations on the Guardians of the Galaxy movies) but it’s cut short when Sara is fatally shot about ten minutes into the film. Her killer, the physics-defying Teijo (Iko Uwais), gets away. Cue the revenge subplot that sees an obsessed Vic devoting his life to tracking down his partner’s killer. With his eyesight blurred by lasik and his car crashed in a ditch, Vic has no choice but to call an uber. The last thing his driver, Stu (Nanjiani), expects is to be “recruited” as Vic’s partner. But whatever it takes for a five-star rating.

Since I laughed a few times, I can’t completely eviscerate the movie even though on some level I feel it deserves it. Still, four or five successful jokes aren’t sufficient recompense for 90 minutes of boredom. The action sequences don’t even provide a brief break from the monotony. They are poorly conceived and choreographed, often feeling like outtakes rather than the real thing. When it comes to satirizing the oh-so-ripe target of ridesharing, Stuber pulls its punches. (I’m assuming Uber paid a licensing fee since Lyft isn’t mentioned, although I’m not sure why any company would want this brand of exposure.)

I can think of a lot of clever ways to employ an Uber ride in a motion picture but none of them are put to use by Clancy’s screenplay and Michael Dowse’s direction. (A Blumhouse-style psychological thriller? An update of Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth?) This least-common-denominator movie relies on recycled plot points and bad clichés to create a trip that’s memorable only for its destination: the chance to escape through the theater exit. I think (former WWE player) Batista played a great role. I use to see him in my childhood days in WWE fighting ring even their he was a great fighter and always a talent person. But the movie was not so good this time.

I will rate this movie 5/10.

Directed byMichael Dowse
Produced by Jonathan Goldstein John Francis Daley
Written byTripper Clancy
Starring Kumail Nanjiani Dave Bautista Iko Uwais Natalie Morales Betty Gilpin Jimmy Tatro Mira Sorvino Karen Gillan
Music byJoseph Trapanese
CinematographyBobby Shore
Edited byJonathan Schwartz
Production
company
GoldDay Productions
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date March 13, 2019 (SXSW) July 12, 2019 (United States)
Running time93 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$16 million
Box office$32.4 million

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