In a market saturated with sequels, spin-offs, and capes it is an exciting prospect to sit down and watch an original movie not related to any existing property that stars Kumail Nanjiani. An action/comedy that also stars the ever rising star Dave Bautista, coupled with Kumail seems like gold, but alas all we receive is a muddled mess that squanders its capable stars.
The plot is fine, Kumail plays an Uber driver named Stu (yes that is where we get the title), that is tapped by Bautista, a cop who has recently had eye surgery and sees only blurry shapes and colors. You can imagine the hi-jinx. The action part of this just seemed under developed and rushed for the most part, you have two huge names that can do some heavy lifting in Bautista and The Raid’s Iko Uwais, but the quick cuts and shaky camera expose a director that is just not suited for well choreographed fight sequences.
The comedy also misses more than it hits. Kumail is effortlessly hilarious but his constant stream of one liners start to fall flat as the film moves along. The social commentary about toxic masculinity and the future is female could have worked really well here, but all the references and jokes felt forced at times. With all the characters playing too “on the nose” personalities a lot of what is supposed to be sincere growth by the end of the film just becomes predictable banter trying to elicit an unearned emotion from the audience.
But its not all bad! Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani have great chemistry together and their odd couple pairing brings some pretty hilarious moments, including a certain part of the anatomy referred to as “Simon Birch”. The somewhat formulaic story moves along briskly and director Michael Dowse brings his physical comedy sensibilities aided by Bautista’s knack for falling down and bursting through walls.
In the end Stuber has a lot of great ingredients, but fails to bring them all together in a meaningful way. The fact that this original comedy is looking like a box office failure does a disservice to all the future projects that big studios will shy away from. I realize that all of this does not rest on the shoulders of Stuber, but this was a chance to bring some change. I guess it’s just not meant to be, with Bautista already firmly ensconced withins Marvel and Nanjiani recently signing on to be in Marvels The Eternals, we are not going to be getting the original movies audiences deserve.