Main cast: Kumail Nanjiani (Stu Prasad), Dave Bautista (Victor Manning), Iko Uwais (Oka Tedjo), Natalie Morales (Nicole Manning), Betty Gilpin (Becca), Jimmy Tatro (Richie Sandusky), Rene Moran (Amo Cortez), Mira Sorvino (Captain Angie McHenry), and Karen Gillan (Sara Morris)
Director: Michael Dowse
Stuber is a nickname given by Stu Prasad’s boss Richie Sandusky to him, because he drives a Uber after work, you see. Poor Stu is actually quite a loser in that he’s madly infatuated with his colleague Becca, who is treating him like her personal emotional tampon and giving him time of day only when she needs a co-investor for her gym, or when she’s broken up with some guy and needing some harmless bloke to cry and wail to. Stu is also obsessed with getting his first ever five star rating. The closest he’s ever had is 4.1 – no matter how hard he tries to please his customers, something always happens to ruin the trip.
Meanwhile, we also have Victor Manning, a cop who is still obsessed with capturing drug dealer Oka Tedjo after that villain killed his partner Sara six months ago. He ignores his daughter Nicole for the most part because vengeance is all he cares about.
So, one day, Victor needs a ride after crashing his on his way to pursue a lead, and guess who just happens to be passing by…
Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista have pretty good chemistry together, which is good as chemistry is integral for any buddy-buddy action comedy to work. This one throws two polar opposites together, and for the most part, both actors make their roles work. These characters’ insults and retorts go back and forth in a manner that feels natural and even amusing. I get the most enjoyment from this aspect of this movie.
The story itself is a miss, though. Iko Uwais is barely in this movie for a big bad, and come to think of it, the bad guys barely matter. The movie is all about Victor dragging Stu from one mess to another, and Stu’s reaction to these increasingly over the top scenarios. My issues with the story are twofold.
One, Victor is a really crappy person. If you don’t like people who think that being a cop means that they can do whatever they want without care as to how their actions can damage the lives and livelihoods of those people caught in his path, you are going to have a hard time liking this fellow and hence the movie. Sure, the movie intends for Stu to rail at him about his hideously insensitive treatment of Stu and how he has completely wrecked Stu’s life and possibly future employment prospects without any care, but it also validates Victor in the end anyway, so there’s that.
Two, Victor is a really terrible detective. The bad guys have to actually make their way to him, because I don’t think he will ever catch up with them on his own; this one would have been a Netflix three-season series then instead of a single movie. Three seasons of Victor being a douche, shudder. His ineptness is designed to allow Stu to use his brains now and then to get them out of a sticky situation, but this also means that Victor is a callous jerk and an incompetent moron. That’s not an attractive combination of traits to have in a lead character whom I am supposed to root for.
The Victor situation aside, Stuber is a pretty standard opposites attract buddy cop comedy that is content to rehash familiar tropes instead of going out of its way to stand out. Many twists and turns here will feel like they were lifted out of a screenwriting for beginners handbook, and that bad cop thing can be seen coming from a mile away. The chemistry between the two lead actors lifts this one out of mediocrity, but it’s still chemistry between a douchebag and the hapless sod he spends most of the movie browbeating and walking over. It’s fun… to a point, and it’s not a particularly memorable point.