Stuber (2019) Jul 14, 2019 14:12:21 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jul 14, 2019 14:12:21 GMT -5
Directed by: Michael Dowse
Directed by: Michael Dowse
Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani in Stuber.
Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) is a young adult working at a sporting goods store and as a part-time Uber driver (get it? Stu + Uber?). Punctuating the corporate drudgery and the hell he receives from his cad of a boss are moments spent with his closest friend and future business partner Becca (Betty Gilpin), who leans on him whenever she goes through one of her many breakups. Stu would like to be in a relationship with Becca, but makes the most of his confidant role, hoping that their start-up venture will help be the ticket to her heart.
In the meantime, however, Stu is desperate to try and get his Uber star-rating up. It currently sits around 4/5, and if dips below 4, he's out of a job. But just when it seems that he'll get the alone-time he needs with Becca to tell her how he really feels, he picks up Vic (Dave Bautista), an angry cop recovering from Lasik surgery who might finally be able to nab the person who killed his partner. Vic orders Stu to drive all over Los Angeles; everywhere from strip-clubs, seedy neighborhoods, and veterinary hospitals en route to a vicious drug dealer (Iko Uwais, The Raid: Redemption). Both men are buying time, with Stu trying to get to Becca and Vic trying to make his daughter's (Natalie Morales) art gallery.
Stuber is quite reminiscent of other recent action-comedies, like Keanu and Snatched, insofar that it does the latter half of its genre better than the former. The film was directed by Michael Dowse, whose films Goon and Take Me Home Tonight both had remnants of "action," the one with much of its hand-to-hand hockey combat and the second with the famous "ball" sequence. Dowse's handling of the fast-moving chases and fight scenes in Stuber is clumsy, and the editing doesn't help in clearing things up. Instead, the camera swings around and prolific cuts meant to provide us some inkling of spatial awareness simply muddle the product. Thankfully, Tripper Clancy's writing goes for the layup in accentuating what Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista do best.
Nanjiani is great as a put-upon dweeb with little self-confidence but someone with a warm, if awkward, demeanor. Bautista is your average tough-guy stereotype, but makes it work with dashes of humor and grit that separate him from being just another chiseled wrestler-turned-actor (cough, The Rock). Clancy pits these two unlikely dichotomies of manhood together in the rideshare from hell, and whether his intent was to show both the harms of toxic masculinity and the nebbish "nice guy," I can't say, but the comedy works just as well. Much of that humor, again, is orchestrated because Clancy gives the actors archetypes with which they're comfortable. Nanjiani is a bright young talent with the rare ability to being charmingly sarcastic, and Bautista is effective with his character because he never becomes too much of a walking caricature.
Certain asides prove to be a lot of fun as well. The scene in the strip-club could've been tired and forced, but Steve Howery playing a gentle dancer elevates it to serving as amusing comedy. An acid-tongued argument between Stu and Vic in Stu's place of employment feels like what much of the audience would like to vent to both deeply flawed characters. Finally, there's also a scene that makes great use of The Hollies' "The Air That I Breathe." Far too few films utilize their brilliantly broad, crowd-pleasing tunes.
With Disney's acquisition of Fox earlier this year, Stuber is the first R-rated movie distributed by Disney since the Benedict Cumberbatch/Julian Assange cyber-espionage flick The Fifth Estate. While I hope Stuber doesn't get as forgotten as that film, as both have their own merits, I do hope, at the end of the day, this isn't labeled the quintessential film feature a rideshare service. The era is still young, and let's hope we get a comedy that better takes advantage of its Uber-centric premise before rideshares as a whole become a fad of the technology era.
Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Betty Gilpin, Iko Uwais, Natalie Morales, Steve Howery, and Karen Gillan. Directed by: Michael Dowse.