Movie Review: “Stuber”
Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) is struggling to make ends meet while working two, low-paying jobs. By day, he works in a retail sporting goods store, but by night he works as an Uber driver. He is trying to raise some money to help the girl of his dreams, but this may be an impossible task. Stu is unable to take up more hours at the sporting goods store, and he has had a streak of poor Uber ratings. Once his Uber rating falls below fours stars, getting more rides will be difficult. He cannot let that happen but he is already dangerously close to dropping below four stars.
Vic (Dave Bautista) is cop who is obsessed with catching a criminal mastermind, named Tedjo (Iko Uwais), who has been responsible for the deaths of some of Vic's peers. Innocents have been hurt and Vic had blown his best chance at taking Tedjo down. He had Tedjo right where he wanted him but, when his glasses fell off, Tedjo was able to get away. Vic will not let this happen again, so he has scheduled lasik surgery to fix his vision. With his vision severely impaired after surgery, Vic is essentially blind and unable to drive for over twenty four hours. Vic plans on staying at home until his vision comes back, but when he gets a tip regarding Tedjo's current location, he decides to get an Uber.
The Pros & Cons
Kumail Nanjiani & Dave Bautista (+5pts)
The Main Plot (-4pts)
The Premise & The Comedy (+5pts)
The Climax (-3pts)
Nicole & Becca (+3pts)
The Ending (-2pts)
Pro: Kumail Nanjiani & Dave Bautista (+5pts)
I knew Dave Bautista had comedic chops after seeing him in Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. That being said, while those two movies had plenty of comedy, this movie was primarily a comedy and I thought Dave Bautista did a pretty good job in it. His character was not a comedic character on the surface, but the situation he has found himself in has certainly made him one. Dave Bautista delivered plenty of funny, comedic moments, but I also thought he worked well with Kumail Nanjiani.
Kumail Nanjiani brought his unique comedic style, which I always find really entertaining. The guy is clever and witty, but he tends to play comedically pathetic characters. He is a very talented comedic actor, but is just as capable dramatically. The two (Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani) formed a pretty unorthodox duo in this movie, but their differences complemented each other really well. Both actors were funny, and both had their share of drama, but it was the chemistry they had together that made the duo fun to watch.
Con: The Main Plot (-4pts)
I will get into what I liked about the premise next, but I thought the writers did a poor job of setting it up. A cop choosing to go after a dangerous criminal while being essentially blind seems far fetched enough, but to do so while also continuously putting a defenseless Uber driver in harm’s way is just crazy. Was it silly? Sure, but I just did not think the writers did a good job of justifying Vic’s decisions.
I also thought the writers did a poor job with the main plot as a whole. I will get into my issues with the climax and ending of the story later, but I had a tough time caring about Vic’s mission, which was really the main plot of the movie. I did not care about the primary antagonist of the movie, so I did not really care if Vic caught him or not. It was a generic mission with an even more generic antagonist. It was obvious that the filmmakers did not really care if the plot of this movie was good or made any sense. They just wanted some comedy, and did not care about the plot that strung it together. The comedy worked, so this was not a huge issue, but that does not mean that we can ignore the fact that the main plot was one of this movie’s weaknesses.
Pro: The Premise & The Comedy (+5pts)
Did I think it was setup poorly? Absolutely, but I still thought the premise was silly, and it provided a lot of the movie’s comedy. Vic is desperate to catch Tedjo, but is temporarily blind. The result is him bumbling around and relying heavily on his new “partner”. That partner is Stu, the Uber driver, who is scared, helpless, severely unqualified, and severely unsuited for hunting down dangerous criminals. It was a premise that required the viewer to ignore logic, but it provided a lot of comedic and entertaining moments.
Con: The Climax (-3pts)
The climax of Stuber suffered from the movie having a weak main plot. It is where the Tedjo storyline comes to a head, it had a plot “twist”, and had some plot-driven drama between Vic and Stu. Unfortunately, I did not care about any of it. I did not care about the Tedjo storyline, because the main plot was written so poorly. I did not care about the plot “twist”, because it did not matter or involve a character that the audience will care about at all. I even did not care about the plot-driven drama between Vic and Stu, because it was really obvious how everything would play out, which made it hard to get invested in it. The movie had plenty of decent comedy (some of which was in the climax), but the climax suffered from a poorly written main plot.
Pro: Nicole & Becca (+3pts)
Nicole (Natalie Morales) and Becca (Betty Gilpin) represented the two side plots, both of which I thought worked really well. Nicole is Vic’s daughter who feels overlooked, as her father is always focused on his work and does not seem to care what she is doing. Becca has put Stu confidently in the friend-zone and, while he wants to get out, he has no idea how to do that. Nicole and Becca were essential at setting up Vic and Stu (respectively). The writers did a good job of making Vic and Stu feel real, and did a good job of making me care about them. They did this by creating two effective side characters, and the two actresses did a good job of filling each of these roles.
Con: The Ending (-2pts)
The ending of this movie was another unfortunate example of poor writing. The filmmakers clearly gave little effort to the main plot of this movie, and the falling action of the movie was more evidence of that. However, I would not go as far as to say the falling action was “bad”, and it certainly did not hurt the movie much. That being said, it was a very predictable, cookie-cutter kind of ending. I was not exactly expecting an M. Night Shyamalan style plot twist, but the ending of this movie did not do anything special.
Grade: C+ (79pts)
Stuber had some decent comedy, had two main actors that worked really well together, and had two main characters with strong character development. The comedy worked so well, because of the silly premise, and the two main actors that delivered it. Both Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani have proven themselves comedically, and in this movie they delivered the comedic style we have come to expect. Their characters were developed pretty well, by assigning an effective side character to each of them. Nicole and Becca gave Vic and Stu (respectively) layers, as well as interesting character stories. Unfortunately, this movie’s biggest problem was a big one. The overall plot of the movie felt like it was written very poorly.
The side storylines (between Vic and Nicole, and Stu and Becca) were done well, but the main plot needed a lot of work. The filmmakers had a decent premise, but they did a poor job of setting up that premise. The audience was required to suspend their disbelief in order to get into the plot of this movie, and a good example of this is that Vic (a cop) consistently and continuously put Stu (a civilian) in significant danger, for which there was no good reason for doing so. The climax and falling action both suffered from the poorly written main plot, so I ended up not caring about the antagonist, the plot twist, or the film’s resolution. The entire plot of the movie felt lazily slapped together so that the filmmakers could make some comedy. Fortunately, the movie was funny, I thought Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani made a fun duo, and I was invested in the characters that they played. It was nowhere near being a “bad” movie, but the writing definitely needed some work.