By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Considering that I saw a work-in-progress version of the film at this year’s SXSW, I held back from writing a review until I saw the actual theatrical version. Well, as it turns out, both versions are pretty much identical. And that’s a good thing too because Stuber is definitely one of the funnier movies of the year so far. With a mix of uproarious comedy and awesome action, writer Tripper Clancy, director Michael Dowse and stars Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani bring back the buddy comedy in great way.
Kumail Nanjiani stars as the meek, but sweet-natured Stu, a sporting goods store employee who moonlights as an Uber driver. When not working, Stu pines for his best friend Becca (Betty Gilpin), an attractive lady with whom he plans to open an exercise business. Meanwhile, Victor “Vic” Manning (Dave Bautista), a tough badass of a cop seeks to bring down drug boss Oka Teijo (Iko Uwais). On one fateful day (a particularly inopportune one for both Vic and Stu), the two polar opposite men cross paths. Vic forces Stu to be his driver and they go on a wild ride of violence, insanity, and comedy together.
Though Clancy and Dowse don’t attempt to be game-changers when it comes to the buddy/action-comedy subgenre they definitely make an impressive and entertaining mark with Stuber. In addition to the hilariously written and performed humor, Dowse and his crew deserve high praise for their skillfully shot and cut action sequences. The plot is standard buddy fare, but the action and comedy elevates the quality of this movie to exciting and entertaining levels. It is definitely one of the more fun times I have had at a theater this year.
The entire cast is great, but this show truly belongs to Nanjiani and Bautista. Bautista, this time, opts for the more serious role of Vic Manning, a hardened and serious cop intent on bringing down Teijo. Still, Bautista does have some funny moments of physical comedy in addition to the amazing fight and action sequences which utilize the skills he picked up as a professional wrestler.
At the same time comedian/actor Kumail Nanjiani uses his superb comic timing, sharp wit, and irrepressible charm to earn some hearty laughs from the audience. I was rather disappointed that Indonesian action star Iko Uwais, doesn’t have that much screen time as villain Oka Teijo, but every scene he is in is pretty damn stellar. The movie also features great performances by Natalie Morales, Betty Gilpin, Jimmy Tatro and Mira Sorvino in addition to some scene-stealing appearances by Steve Howey and Amber Chardae Robinson.
And because this film is so thrilling and funny, I must highly recommend that people check it out on the big screen. It isn’t a movie that begs for the theatrical treatment, but one that is sure to have people talking about what a great time they had at the cinema.