It is always a weird thing when modern-day technology and ideas make their way into a film. It can make the film feel very dated especially when that idea fades out of the public consciousness. It is still strange to see a 911 call take place through a computer in Scream. Now we are getting a film involving the driving service Uber in the new comedy Stuber. Can it be a film that won’t be dated ten years down the line? Perhaps, but the quality of the film will certainly help. Stuber is a fun ride with some great jokes that occasionally goes off course but gets you where you need to go.
In Stuber, we follow Vic (Dave Bautista) who is an L.A.P.D. officer that recently lost his partner during a chase. Six months later, the desire for revenge still sits in him and he will not stop obsessing with finding the guy who killed his partner. All of this happens on the day he has eye surgery and can barely see. When a tip comes on where the culprit might be, he calls an Uber driven by Stu (Kumail Nanjiani), an innocent bystander who just wants to be with the woman he loves but is too afraid to tell her. From there, their own desires clash, and hilarity ensues. We have seen this premise before. A dangerous man takes a driver hostage and forces them to get them around town. Collateral did this with Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx in a taxi. That was a much darker movie. Stuber takes that premise and makes it funny and more enjoyable even though what is happening totally immoral. This film understands its absurdity and tackles it head on which elevates the material. We put ourselves in the shoes of Stu but also understand where Vic is coming from. Tom Cruise was an antagonist in Collateral, Dave Bautista is not in this film, so we find ourselves having affection for both characters.
What works best about Stuber is the ideas it tries to dissect while masking itself as a buddy comedy. Stu is an insecure Uber driver who tries to please everyone but never stands up for himself. Vic is a tough, hard-nosed cop that has pushes away people he cares about and tries to justify it as protection. He is afraid to open up about his own feelings. They are essentially opposites of one another and their dynamics clash. The idea of “be a man” is an interesting one to look at in 2019. It is really a dated term that doesn’t fit anymore. It meant to not show any emotion and toughen up when things don’t go your way. In Stuber, Vic throws this ideal at Stu, but Stu shoves it right back in his face to mean what he thinks the term should be. Vic wants Stu to toughen up while Stu tells Vic that it is ok to show emotion and have compassion. To see them both realize where each other is coming from and become better for that is great to see in a modern comedy.
What people are looking for most out of this comedy is laughs and Stuber is, to put it as simple as possible, funny. A big wrestler like Bautista shoved into a small car with Kumail who is half his size is hilarious visually but their dynamic carries this film. They bounce off each other so well that you’d think they grew up with one another. It is not just cheap falling down or fart jokes either, it is well earned and thought out jokes. There is a fight in a sporting goods store that you never want to end due to the physical humor in it. Bautista is nearly blind for most of this film and he becomes a bull knocking over everything in his path and sometimes himself. Imagine that in a fight. Kumail is also a genius comic. He understands how to make people of today laugh and it hits every time. There are jokes as well that push the boundaries towards being offensive and as soon as they cross that line, the movie calls itself out on it. The self-awareness this film has is terrific because unfortunately, the script does the film little favors. You know where this story is going from the start and had it not been for the two leads getting everything they can out of it, this could’ve been a mess.
Throwing it all together, Stuber is a great adult summer comedy that will both entertain you but also make you think. There is surprisingly a lot to take with you from a film titled Stuber. Bautista and Kumail and the perfect odd couple and play off one another like you couldn’t imagine. The story is very much flawed, but if you roll with the punches and enjoy the laughs, you will enjoy this film.
The Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars