There is perhaps nothing more frustrating in the film world than a movie that should be so much better than it is and, perhaps even more so, a comedy that just isn’t funny even though all the signs – in particular a good cast – point to it being a laugh riot rather than an absolute dumpster fire.
Most recently, The Hustle and Men In Black: International have joined those “prestigious” ranks and although their stories are much more heartbreaking than Stuber‘s (MIB’s in particular), their crimes are equally as devastating. Stuber, then, the new vehicle for Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani, as well as a strong supporting cast, is as woefully misjudged as those aforementioned flops but not quite as criminal.
Here’s the level of humour considered to be fresh and funny in Michael Dowse‘s hopelessly unfunny film: the title comes from the lead character’s name, Stu, and his part-time job as an Uber driver. Stu-Uber. Stuber. Yep, it’s bottom of the barrel stuff on show here, and this isn’t even its biggest crime. No, that’s reserved for somehow wasting the considerable talents of the leading duo – and, indeed, The Raid star Iko Uwais, an even bigger sin. He maybe should have known better but on paper, this must have seemed like a no-brainer. Sadly, it is completely no brain.
Bautista is the gruff, over-zealous local cop who is still mourning the death of his young partner (Karen Gillan in all-too-brief cameo) six months earlier. Reeling from that, he’s permanently heill hell-bent on finding the perpetrators but he has a more pressing issue: his eyesight is fading and, the day he decides to get laser surgery, those pesky crooks resurface. What manners. Hence his decision to utilise an Uber, driven by said-title character (Nanjiani) who chaperones him around as he mercilessly takes down bad guys to get to the “big boss” Uwais.
What follows is a sad, lethargic and woefully unfunny odd couple cop comedy that tries in vain to recapture the wit and exuberance of classics like Lethal Weapon and 48 Hours but falls flat on its face trying. Nanjiani, who ironically saved MIB: International from total devastation, tries his best to bring some life to the film, as does Bautista, but both are swallowed whole by the direness of the script, and sink without trace.
This should have been something of a celebration: a no-holds barred, action-packed, sweaty and pulsating R-rated action comedy but what transpires is a daft, unfunny, miscalculated film that will hopefully be forgotten as quickly as it’s released. A real misfire.
Scott J.Davis | [rating=1]
Comedy, Action | USA, 2019 | 12th July 2019 (UK) | 20th Century Fox Pictures |Dir.Michael Dowse | Dave Bautista, Kumail Nanjiani, Mira Sorvino, Betty Gilpin, Iko Uwais