Is “Stuber” worth a date night?
Yes . . . with some caveats.
This hilarious, fun throwback to the great buddy-cop action comedies of the 1980s has great chemistry between the unlikely lead duo of Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista. Most should enjoy it as a pure shot of fun adrenaline.
But be forewarned that this R-rated film has a couple of intensely violent fight scenes. There’s more profanity than most films. Also, the movie contains a quick shot of full-frontal male nudity in the background of a comedic scene.
I took a pretty devout date and we both wound up having a great time.
I rely on Uber to get around. Plenty of interesting things happen on those rides. I’ve smelled fragrant snacks and heard foreign-language conversations of my fellow Uber pool passengers. I’ve experienced the maddening inability of the majority of drivers being unable to communicate with even a modicum of English.
Needless to say, I’ve long thought that there could be a hilarious movie to be made about the Uber experience.
That film has arrived.
The movie stars a highly unlikely but utterly terrific odd couple combo. Former pro-wrestler turned actor Dave Bautista of “Guardians of the Galaxy” fame joins rising star Kumail Nanjiani. Nanjiani starred in the biggest indie hit of 2018, “The Big Sick.” He scored an Oscar nomination for co-writing it too. They make a winning pair in what should be a huge hit that could well become a modern action-comedy classic along the lines of “Lethal Weapon.”
A driver and cop teach each other how to be better men
The movie’s title refers to the title character. He’s a Pakistani-American (Kumail Nanjiani) sporting goods store clerk named Stu. He’s also broke, and forced to drive for Uber the second he’s off work. His obnoxious jerk of a boss thus calls him Stuber. The good-natured but put-upon Stu also can’t seem to work up the nerve to declare his love for the girl of his dreams. He doesn’t know how to say no when she asks him to co-sign the business loan for her spin-cycle gym for women called Spinster.
Stu’s minding his business on another aimless evening. Then, he gets a ride order from Vic (Dave Bautista), a burly undercover cop who’s trying to race to two disparate destinations.
First, he’s received word that a heroin dealer named Teijo (Iko Uwais) that he’s been trying to bring down for years is doing a major drug deal that night. He wants to be there to bust him.
Second, his daughter has an important showing of her sculptures at her art gallery the same night. Vic promised to be there no matter what.
Complicating things further is the fact that Vic just had laser surgery on his eyes. He’s blind for the next 12 hours as he recovers.
After he hilariously crashes his car while attempting to drive anyway, he calls an Uber for the first time in his life. Stu shows up and an insane night of personal and professional misadventures begins.
Stu has an agenda of his own: the girl he loves has finally realized she wants to have sex with him. He’s determined to make it to her no matter what happens with Vic.
“Stuber” is the funniest movie of the year so far
“Stuber” is a genuinely entertaining and inventive throwback to the great buddy-cop comedies of the 1980s. The film layers in hilarious twists in the details of the film throughout.
One prime example occurs when Stu shoots a bad guy in the leg and freaks out. He begs Vic to take the villain to a hospital. Vic winds up leading him to an animal hospital, since he’s taken possession of the criminal’s dog. The dog’s owner force fed it heroin packets as a means of hiding them. Vic thinks the criminal “is an animal anyway.”
Other improbable locales include a shootout in a hot sauce factory and an interrogation at a strip club that turns out to have male strippers. Clientele keep trying to stuff dollar bills down Vic’s clothing as he storms through the club.
Both Vic and Stu need to learn various aspects of being a man. Vic realizes he’s been a terrible father and Stu decides he’s done being a doormat for everyone around him.
The increasing emotional sensitivity of the bone-crushing Vic and the slow-burning fury of the mild-mannered Stu results in hilarious banter throughout and surprising actions from each character as they evolve along the way.
Director Michael Dowse made a splash back in 2011 with the indie cult classic comedy “Goon.” That movie was about about a slow-witted bouncer who becomes a semi-pro hockey star because of his sheer willingness to beat the tar out of his opponents. He utilizes his gift for combining bruising action and outrageous comedy throughout “Stuber.”
Nanjiani steps up to the plate and hits a home run as Stu. It’s a role that with any justice will make him a very big star after a lengthy career in excellent supporting roles.
Bautista also builds off his “Guardians” turn. He applies the same gentle giant mode as Drax half the time and full-on Schwarzenegger-style action heroics the other half.
A great date night pick, despite the violence and language
The only slight downside to this wildly entertaining movie— easily the funniest movie so far this year – is that the action scenes in a couple of places (including the opening scene). Those scenes are too violently jarring for even the genre. The movie is packed with action in the form of shootouts, chases, and explosion. There’s a profusion of profanity that could have easily been toned down and turned into a PG-13 movie and reached a wider audience.
On the plus side, however, the movie has strong underlying themes of becoming better men. Vic has been a distant father to his now-adult daughter her whole life. Stu convinces him he has to do better, leading to a more positive relationship between them.
Stu, meanwhile, learns to stand up for himself and not just always be pushed aside by his girlfriend. He also learns not be a doormat to Vic and all his other customers.
As a bonus, the film ends with a surprising bit of pro-Christian Christmas cheer.
Overall, “Stuber” is a fun ride for fans of classic 1980s action comedies. There are some edifying messages hidden under too-frequent profanity and some over-the-top violence.
But anytime it seems that “Stuber” might be losing its sense of direction, its sense of humor keeps it on course.