Friday, July 19, 2019

Movie Review: "Stuber" (2019)

Director: Michael Dowse
Year: 2019
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

A narcotics detective who recently underwent eye surgery hires an Uber driver to take him around town so he can investigate an impending drug shipment and bring down one of the city's biggest drug dealers.

Movie still for the 2019 film "Stuber" where Dave Bautista strangles Iko Uwais in a hotel room
"I'm gonna start drinking, then Yogurtland, then vengeance." (Image Source)
Have you ever considered being an Uber driver to earn a little extra cash? Well, watching "Stuber" may change your mind real quick about that. This film is directed by Michael Dowse, who is known for directing such movies as "Take Me Home Tonight," "Goon," and the gem "What If." It is written by Tripper Clancy. The story focuses on Detective Vic Manning (Dave Bautista), who has just had eye surgery. Shortly after getting home from the doctor, Manning gets a tip that will help him bust major drug trafficker Oka Tedjo (Iko Uwais), who he has been tracking for years since Tedjo murdered his partner (Karen Gillan). Because of the surgery, Vic can't see, and subsequently, isn't allowed to drive, so he does what anyone in this day and age does given the circumstances: he orders an Uber. Mild-mannered Uber chauffeur Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) makes the mistake of accepting Manning's ride request and is forced to take him around the city on an investigation where they are sure to get into dangerous situations. If Stu doesn't comply, Vic will give him a dreaded one-star review, and unfortunately, Stu is on the cusp of dropping below the four-star average Uber demands its drivers maintain. One more low rating means Stu will lose the side-job he holds so dear.
Kumail Nanjiani screams at Dave Bautista inside his Uber in a movie still for the new action film Stuber
"You're built for justice, I'm built for brunch." (Image Source)
When "Stuber" first began, we got a little nervous. There is a prologue of sorts that gives some back story about the conflict between Vic Manning and Oka Tedjo. It features an extended action scene full of horrific camera work that shakes all over the place and is loaded with quick cuts, a trick of the trade implemented when filmmakers have to fudge the actual nonexistent athletic abilities of their stars. When you have Dave Bautista and Iko Uwais at your disposal, two people who are both very capable of selling a fight, we would have preferred to see the camera take a step back and let them show off their skills on their own. Luckily, the whole movie isn't like the opening sequence.

At its core, "Stuber" is an odd-couple buddy-cop-style comedy similar to movies like "The Other Guys," "Cop-Out," "Taxi," or even "Dragnet." Needless to say, it's an ancient formula. Sometimes it has been successful, other times, not so much. "Stuber" pairs a no-nonsense, old fashioned, overly masculine, muscle-bound tough guy in Vic Manning with Stu, a modern, timider, quick-witted, snarky man who is more in touch with PC identity politics. Whether or not movies like this work depends on the chemistry between the lead actors, and though they both play entirely to type, Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani manage to work well together as an on-screen duo. As is the case with most comedies, not every joke works out. In fact, some of them are eye-rollingly bad/mistimed/stale. BigJ seemed to roll his eyes more often than I did, and conversely, I laughed a little more often than BigJ did. Truth be told, we both wound up laughing more frequently than we thought we would, at least enough to justify the cost of a movie ticket and 93 minutes of our lives. 
Movie still for Stuber where Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista sit behind a red cabinet in a veterinary office and wait for the shooting to stop
"That's your problem. You give people Glocks instead of love." (Image Source)
"Stuber" might not break new ground or be an instant comedy classic, but it's a fun way to spend the afternoon if you are looking to have a raunchy, bloody good time.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.1/10
RT Rating: 43%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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