'Stuber' Review

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Kumail Nanjiani’s live-action, starring role follow-up to his 2017 indie darling “The Big Sick” (for which he earned an Oscar nomination with his wife Emily) is a big, sickly mess.

At one point during the “action comedy”, co-star Dave Bautista remarks how combining Stu (the name of Nanjiani’s character) and Uber (the ridesharing service) to form “Stuber” is a clever pun. And that’s as far as the originality goes.

Stu is an LA Uber driver. Bautista’s Vic is an LAPD officer looking for the drug dealer who killed his partner. The same day Vic gets LASIK eye surgery (and can’t see well enough to drive) comes his big chance to finally get his man. He contacts an Uber to take him to the location where he needs to go to crack the case. Stu becomes his driver, and new partner, on one wild day.

“Stuber”‘s bumpy ride begins with an opening action scene featuring Bautista and his “Guardians of the Galaxy” co-star Karen Gillan. It’s wildly clumsy — as is a later shoot-out at a pet hospital. And a fight scene between Vic and Stu at a sporting goods store is a contender for Worst Scene of 2019.

Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani
Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani

But it’s the script, by newcomer Tripper Clancy, that’s the cause of most of the damage. The dialogue is incredibly unimaginative. I chuckled a couple of times over this 90 minutes journey — that’s it. At various points, after writing himself into a corner, Clancy simply has a character say “Go F*ck Yourself”, in hopes of getting a laugh. This is a car crash of a screenplay.

For some reason studios see Bautista as the next large but lovable action star (in the tradition of Arnold and Dwayne). Personally, I don’t see it — and this film isn’t going to help those efforts. Nanjiani’s talents are wasted, as he merely provides annoying wisecracks and ridiculously over-the-top reactions in every scene. Subtle understatement is Nanjiani’s comedic bread and butter. “Stuber” is about as subtle as an 8-car pile-up. With so many options following “The Big Sick”, you have to wonder why he chose this project.

Completely stu-pid and instantly forgettable, I give “Stuber” a half-star rating.

Jackson Murphy: Emmy Award-winning Film Critic / Entertainment Reporter. Broadcast Film Critics Assoc. (@CriticsChoice), SAG-AFTRA (@SAGAwards)