Unfortunately I don’t think anything else can be done with the buddy cop formula after the mediocrity that is the movie STUBER. I even groan thinking about the possibility Rush Hour 4. In fact I would go so far as to say that the first Rush Hour is the last great buddy cop film (please correct me if I’m wrong, I’m not thinking too hard on this). And while Stuber tries to do something different, although you could argue its a reverse Collateral, it ultimately fails because it doesn’t do the one thing it needed to do in order to work: be funny. I maybe chuckled twice during the film, but there was in no way any hearty belly hurting laughs. And it certainly isn’t the actors fault, in fact, the only decent part of the film was that Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani did the best they could with the script they were given and maintained a decent chemistry. The fault is entirely upon the director but more so, the screenwriters. This film felt like it should’ve been released as a Netflix original. Not terrible, but not near theatrical experience worthy.
If you haven’t heard of Stuber, although I don’t understand why you wouldn’t have, they are marketing the shit out of this movie. But it stars Kumail Nanjiani as a guy named Stu about to go into a cycling business with the woman he’s desperately in love with but who doesn’t share the same sentiment. To get enough money to be an investor, he works two jobs, one at a sporting goods store, and the rest of his time is spent as an Uber driver. Hence his name Stu, mixed with Uber, is Stuber, the title of the film, the film makes sure you get it about a thousand times with character interactions. On the other side of the coin you have Dave Bautista, a cop named Vic trying to bust a drug dealer named Oka, who once killed his partner, and is about to execute a giant drug deal worth millions. So Vic can drive, so why does he need an Uber? What the marketing doesn’t tell you is one of the only other interesting things about the film: Vic just underwent laser eye surgery and is told that it is going to take 24 hours before he can really see again. And he gets a call that the bust is going to go down during this time period, and he doesn’t want the Feds to have the case. So he essentially makes Stu his permanent Uber driver until the case is closed.
Hi-jinks ensue, action beat, action beat, action beat, they argue and yell at each other every two minutes, male penis in the background that is supposed to bring a big laugh, betrayals, to sum it up, the film is as predictable as you can imagine. Other than Vic and Stu just yelling mean insults at each other and overdone physical comedy to try and get a rise out of the audience, the film tries to have an action set piece every couple of minutes to keep moviegoers eyes open. Unfortunately, this director is definitely not an action director, because when the movie switches to bullets and explosions on the drop of a dime, the movie also switches from steady cam, to some of the worst shaky cam I’ve seen in a film since Captain Phillips. You can’t tell what the fuck is going on its so bad. Shaky cam is often used when a director knows he can’t frame and set up an action shot well, so that maneuver combined with some lightning fast editing is supposed to make everything look cool and too smart for the viewer, when it is actually trying to hide the mediocrity.
Like I said, the film isn’t the fault of Dave Bautists and Kumail Nanjiani, they actually make some of the really stiff dialogue when they are getting onto each other work and play off their comedic strengths. They are meant to be the shaky cam that covers up the mediocre directing and screenplay. It might work for modern audience, but it doesn’t work for this reviewer that goes through everything with a fine tooth comb. Also, there is a lot of talent wasted here. Karen Gillan is in this film for less the 5 minutes (I really believe they brought her over at the last minute because she was filming Jumanji 3 near by and they wanted to cash in on a wink wink Guardians of the Galaxy team up) , I thought she would pop up again at the end, but once her scene is done at the beginning, you don’t even see a picture of her the rest of the film. Betty Gilpin is wasted being on the other end of a Facetime call for the whole picture. Natalie Morales tries her best to give her role as the daughter of Vic some kind of levity (although the end squashes it), Iko Uwais martial arts ability is again completely wasted because of the shaky cam bullshit, just like it was wasted in Mile 22, and Mira Sorvino is abysmal in her handful of predictable scenes as Vic’s Captain Boss.
I don’t understand why this film wasn’t just released on Netflix. Who in their right mind thought this was theatrical material? Somebody should’ve second guessed themselves. My next review after this I’m going to talk about a film who is really think was meant to go straight to VOD, however test audiences pulled it from that shallow grave and gave it a theatrical distribution, and it actually worked. This…Stuber…I just don’t understand. It’s not one of the worst films of the year due to the chemistry of Nanjian and Bautista, it just reeks of mediocrity. And it’s entertaining enough to be a one time watch thing, but more of a background film on Netflix while you are cleaning the house or paying your taxes. The film isn’t funny, and it tries too hard to be. It brings absolutely nothing else to the buddy cop formula other than the Uber driver story premise, and that is proof right there that the whole genre just needs to be a sweet memory. You can bring back that sweet memory with visits to films from the 80s and 90s every couple of years, but any new ideas need to be Lyfted away and never given the green light.