Mr. Movie

Mr. Movie: ‘Stuber’ a middle of the road buddy-cop movie

Stuber trailer

When a mild-mannered Uber driver named Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) picks up a passenger (Dave Bautista) who turns out to be a cop hot on the trail of a brutal killer, he’s thrust into a harrowing ordeal where he desperately tries to hold onto his wits.
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When a mild-mannered Uber driver named Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) picks up a passenger (Dave Bautista) who turns out to be a cop hot on the trail of a brutal killer, he’s thrust into a harrowing ordeal where he desperately tries to hold onto his wits.

Stu is bonkers over Becca. She’s in lust with a buff guy whose muscles have muscles and only sees Stu as a friend. Becca is starting a stationary bike exercise business and needs his financial help. So Stu — who works days at a sporting goods store and because he loves her — grabs a night job as an Uber driver to help finance the business.

No. This isn’t the rom-com movie of the week. While romance is part of the plot, “Stuber” is definitely a buddy movie. This one features a cop and a reluctant buddy.

It is also totally stupid. You’ve seen this film with different titles a dozen times. Other than the setup, this is very familiar territory. While that sounds negative, and while I didn’t love it, I did like the movie. Yes, it is predictable. And the genre is worn out. But I’m a sucker for buddy movies and for me this is guilty pleasure.

It might be for you, too.

Kumail Nanjiani’s Stu fills the buddy role. Dave Bautista plays the cop.

Bautista is Vic. He is a hardcore detective whose partner is killed by a notorious drug dealer. Vic wants revenge. When he learns the bad guy can be had that day, he jumps. Only one problem, Vic has just had eye surgery and can’t see.

His clever solution is where Stu’s Uber driver comes into the picture. Vic’s daughter loaded an Uber app onto his phone so he can get a ride to her art show later that day. About the time he’s ready to leave, Vic gets the bad man tip and plans for the show fly out the window.

Stu answers Vic’s call for a ride and the rest is buddy plus cop movie history.

There are a bunch of different ways to do this genre but all involve that all-critical suspension of disbelief. If you’re a fan, you start there, let go and laugh.

Not all of them work but when they do — and when they’re R-rated — they’re a blast. You know the characters are going to toss out as many expletives as bullets so when buddy-cop movies are done in PG-13 fashion, they’re too sanitized.

Plus, you can’t be as violent with PG-13 as with the harder R.

For me — and for many of you — “Stuber” works. Barely and not super well, but well enough to have you laughing and enjoying this brand of Uber ride.

Chemistry is the key to this brand of flick. Though both characters are as cliche as buddy-cop movies come, part of the comedy comes from contrasts. Vic is super buff, super gruff and single-minded. He just can’t be a nice guy and doesn’t even try. Any violent act is okay as long as you’re doing it to villains.

Film-Stuber-3
This image released by 20th Century Fox shows Dave Bautista, right, and Kumail Nanjiani, standing left, in a scene from "Stuber." Hopper Stone Associated Press

On the other side, Nanjiani’s Stu is a total patsy. He’s an Uber driver obsessed with giving five-star rides. He’s also the victim of unrequited love and one of those people who believe if we’re all just nice to each other things will be just fine.

Neither of those attitudes will get him five stars either.

The bulky Bautista (the Guardians of the Galaxy flicks) and the slim and fragile-looking Nanjiani (“The Big Sick”) are a pretty good team and play off each other perfectly. Bautista growls and grumbles and is ultra intense in bad guy battles. Nanjiani — who can be very, very funny — manages to tough it out while screaming a lot like a little girl.

Sometimes the screaming is funny. Most of the time it is not.

However, the Yin and Yang relationship fits both actors and they bounce off each other perfectly. The flaw — and the negative — is the plot and what happens within. That leads us back to my opening statement.

This is a buddy movie and a predictable one. No one is going to give this ride five star. And the definite set up for a sequel reduces that possibility even more. However, if this genre is your thing, for a buddy-cop movie, this one isn’t bad.

It’s fun in enough parts to recommend but dumb the rest of the time.

▪ Rated R for mature themes, language and violence. It’s playing at the AMC Classic Kennewick 12, the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

▪ Rating: 3 out of 5

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