by Derek Deskins

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday October 1, 2019


Available digitally today!

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Reckoning with "Stuber" is kind of difficult. Its aim is pure; a somewhat nostalgic sojourn through the lands of "48 Hrs" and "Midnight Run" to recall the time of fantastic R-rated buddy action comedies. And if its hope was just to remind you of these movies, wrapping you in a warm blanket of yesterday, then sure, "Stuber" hits it right in the sweet spot. But the conversation around it butts right up against its many influences, and the problem is that it doesn't measure up to the crowd of movies it aims to be considered amongst.

Vic Manning, for better and worse, is defined by his job. The hard-nosed detective is particularly hung up on the criminal that got away, brutal druglord Tedjo. After Tedjo's trail goes frustratingly cold, Vic is reinvigorated by a lead from one of his informants. The only problem is that all this happens on the same day that Vic has undergone laser-eye surgery. With no way to drive himself across Los Angeles, he calls an Uber. Unfortunately for his Uber driver, Stu, this ride is going to be unlike any he's had before.

Any buddy comedy lives and dies by the chemistry of its leads; Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan were able to squabble across three "Rush Hour" movies, but once they were recast for a television remake, it fizzled out almost immediately. Falling in line with the rules of the genre, "Stuber" delivers this chemistry in spades.

Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista are an absolute delight to watch on screen. Their basic character makeup and the film's structure are exceedingly generic, but that doesn't matter in the hands of Nanjiani and Bautista. Nanjiani delivers zingers left and right and Bautista, admittedly doing a more human take on Drax (with a nugget of Mr. Magoo thrown in), is the perfect foil for his nonsense. Likewise, Nanjiani bristles adorably against Bautista's hostile and self-centered Vic, deftly encouraging the audience to laugh even when confronted with an ever-rising body count.

While the film's writing doesn't always offer the wittiest takes and has a penchant for repeating itself, director Michael Dowse places it all in a world that is exceptionally grounded despite the ridiculous nature of the majority of its situations. Dowse, who has proven his ability to play in nostalgic playgrounds with the likes of "Goon" and "Take Me Home Tonight," does not shy away from making a sun-bleached and surprisingly violent tale. While the editing of some of the action scenes renders them hard to follow (and we really need to stop wasting Iko Uwais in these English-language movies), the car chases and an itching need to blow things up, at least makes it all entertaining.

It'd be disingenuous to say that you won't enjoy the ride. "Stuber" floats by on its own predictability, seemingly having no desire to do something special or new. If the movie were to be given a coloring book, it would stay in all of the lines and color every section exactly how you would expect. You don't fault the movie for doing what you thought it would, but seeing its promise, you can't help but wish it had a bit of its own personality. It's fun to watch Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista banter and get stuck in different sticky situations, but they could be doing so much more. It's all just so much wasted potential to deliver something that goes down easy but with little flavor. The truth of the matter is that "Stuber" is a wonderful popcorn movie that feels like it maybe could have (should have) been even better.



Vic Manning :: Dave Bautista
Stu :: Kumail Nanjiani
Angie McHenry :: Mira Sorvino
Nicole :: Natalie Morales
Oka Tedjo :: Iko Uwais
Becca :: Betty Gilpin
Sara Morris :: Karen Gillan
Richie Sandusky :: Jimmy Tatro
Felix :: Steve Howey
Amo Cortez :: Rene Moran
Leon :: Amin Joseph
Upscale Hotel Manager :: Christine Horn


Director :: Michael Dowse
Screenwriter :: Tripper Clancy
Producer :: Jonathan Goldstein
Producer :: John Daley
Executive Producer :: Nicholas Thomas
Executive Producer :: Jeremiah Samuels
Executive Producer :: Jake Wagner
Cinematographer :: Bobby Shore
Film Editor :: Jonathan Schwartz
Original Music :: Joseph Trapanese
Production Design :: Naaman Marshall
Art Director :: Andi Crumbley
Set Decoration :: Karen Frick