Dan's Review: "Stuber" just misses as a parody
Jul 11, 2019 08:06AM
● By Dan Metcalf
Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani in Stuber - © 2019 20th Century Fox.
Stuber (20th Century Fox)
Rated R for violence and language throughout, some sexual references and brief graphic nudity.
Starring Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Iko Uwais, Natalie Morales, Betty Gilpin, Jimmy Tatro, Mira Sorvino, Karen Gillan, Steve Howey, Amin Joseph, Scott Lawrence, Rene Moran, Julia Vasi, Melody Peng, Victoria Anas, Patricia French, Jay D. Kacho.
Written by Tripper Clancy.
Directed by Michael Dowse.
Remember those “buddy cop” movies of the 1980s and 90s? They commonly featured two A-list stars playing off the traditional “Odd Couple” chemistry, set against the deeds of a ruthless crime lord. They peaked with the Lethal Weapon franchise, starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as two misfit partners thrown together by a sinister plot. The formula ran its course and has since become fodder for crime parodies, like Adam McKay’s 2010 film The Other Guys. The clichés of such movies about crimefighting are varied, including “shooting out the tires” of a suspect vehicle and the inevitable fireball explosion of any car that crashes. Stuber is a new comedy starring Kumail Nanjani and Dave Bautista as an odd couple that faces such “cop buddy” clichés.
Nanjani is Stu, a hapless sporting goods store clerk who makes ends meet by using a leased Nissan Leaf as an Uber driver. When LAPD Detective Vic Manning (Bautista) gets corrective laser eye surgery, he is unable to drive and hails Stu’s Uber to transport him around Southern California as he tracks a crime lord and cop killer named Teijo (Iko Uwais). Stu and Vic’s adventures include a visit to a male strip club, a Compton drug house, and a shootout inside a veterinarian clinic. Meanwhile, Stu is trying to ditch Vic so he can hook up with Becca (Betty Gilpin) his longtime platonic friend. Vic is also trying to improve his relationship with his daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales) as Teijo’s evil plans thwart everyone’s good intentions.
Stuber evokes a few laughs as the dynamic between two polar opposite male personalities clash and hilarity ensues. Nanjani delivers most of the comedic dialogue as Bautista does his duty as the “straight man” of the team.
Unlike The Other Guys, Stuber never fully commits as a bona fide parody, straddling a line somewhere between action comedy and cut-rate campy satire. I will give producers credit for embracing the “cop buddy” clichés, but the definitive narrative voice is lost in a pool of raunchy language, shock-for-laughs bloody violence and testosterone-laden one-liners. Yeah, everybody recognizes those cop movie tropes, but Stuber ends up as an occasionally funny movie that leans perhaps too hard on the clichéd formula it seeks to ridicule.