Michael Dowse’s Stuber, despite its several bumps, is a fun ride. It gets where it’s going, amounting to a fun movie experience. As an action-packed comedy, it is filled with laugh-out-loud moments and plenty of crashes, shootouts and explosions.
This buddy film stars Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) as Vic Manning, a police officer who temporarily can’t drive, and Kumail Nanjiani (Franklin and Bash) as Stu, the Uber driver who picks him up. There is something charming about the unlikely chemistry between Bautista and Nanjiani. Vic is a tough cop with a monomania toward his job, which would normally be enough to make him unlikeable, but he is also vulnerable. With a dead partner to avenge, his relationship with his grown daughter on the line and vision problems due to a recent surgery, Vic comes off as quite human. If that wasn’t enough to make him acceptable, he is endearingly protective toward animals. Stu would be irritating in the other extreme, with his electric car and let’s-hug-it-out attitude, his over-the-top customer service, his obsessive desire to raise his Uber ratings and his inept efforts to make a good impression on his disinterested lady-love, but when the trouble starts, he breaks free from his self-absorption long enough to help Vic, his obnoxious passenger who is clearly in need.
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Stuber challenges norms in a multitude of ways. Stu’s character combats the typical version of masculinity we see in an action movie. He is openly fearful, clearly not interested in appearing to be the bravest and strongest person in every encounter and is prepared with alternative, non-violent ideas of achieving his ends, offering a refreshing perspective. The villains and bullies of the movie are contested in a number of ways, some with violence, but others with kindness, and one is even threatened with embarrassing Twitter postings. The comedic norms are also challenged, as in the scene where Stu suggests a strategy from the movie Jaws, and it actually works.
There are flaws in the movie. Some elements are predictable and Stu’s Spinster friend is irritating enough to doubt his sanity in liking her, but they are outweighed by the delightful humor, much of it in one-liners and action sequences.