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Movie Review: Stuber
55%Overall Score

LAPD Detective Vic (Dave Bautista) is out for vengeance. His partner was killed in action, and his mission to take a Drug Lord of the streets is looking increasingly dire. Some months later, he is having eye surgery and gets a call from his informant of a big drop. The only way he can get there without arousing suspicion? Catch an Uber. Enter Stu (Kumail Nanjiani), an Uber driver  who does not have a heart of gold, just a lust for his business partner and a strong desire to punch his retail boss.

Stuber is a simple but funny movie. Its overall idea is strongly reminiscent of a scene from Deadpool, which features Deadpool’s favorite cab driver takes him to some of his most important missions. It’s about as violent as Deadpool too, and definitely comparable to Collateral, the Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx vehicle (pun intended).

If Stuber went less for the hard-R rating, it could’ve considered other ways to fill time than blowing away just about every bad guy they encounter.  The plot is thin, but the dedication to every silly one-liner (“You give people glocks instead of love”) is commendable. They also save a dog. Saving dogs is all the rage now. It’s fun to watch Nanjiani bounce off Bautista, and because the filmmakers are seemingly aware of the limits of a premise like this, the movie is short, around 90 minutes.

Part of what doesn’t work is the reasoning behind the all-day Uber ride in the first place: Detective Vic happens to have had eye surgery and cannot see, and despite knowing this, rather than calling backup, he decides to go by himself. Of course, in his haste to get to his informant, he must drive a car into various objects, and only after totaling the car does he decide that maybe an Uber is better. Also, Stu could’ve driven away at any time, except that he needs a five-star ride in order to maintain a good rating and continue driving. Has Stu ever considered driving for Lyft?

The women are tremendously underserved. They’re either a joke, a daughter, lust interest, a bad person, and a dead person. They exist mostly over the phone, in some scolding or exasperated tone. Considering the film’s awareness of racial dynamics, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to have scenes featuring even two of these women in the same room at the same time. That makes it sound a lot worse than it is, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

For a movie with such a terrible name, Stuber sets itself up for judgement before it even starts. I figured it was either going to be really good surprise, or it was going to be terrible, but I still wanted to see it. Stuber straddles the two, and it met my need for a short, straightforward action-comedy after a tough day at work. I love a good buddy cop / odd couple comedy. I also love a silly one. I suspect Stuber may have a longer life outside the theater than it will on the big screen, and that’s not such a bad thing anymore.

I think TBS needs a new movie in its rotation anyway.

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