Stuber: A Throwback 80s Action Comedy

Dave Bautista as Vic and Kumail Nanjiani as Stu in “Stuber.” Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.

Stuber is a well-made action comedy starring Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista as the film throws it back to the great action comedies of the 1980s.

In a summer full of remakes and sequels, Stuber is a fresh offering.  At the same time, the film is such a throwback to the great action comedies that we love so much.  It is going to offer us a nostalgic feeling.  A different type than what we typically get from watching what feels like never-ending remakes or sequels.  What better subgenre is there than the buddy cop movie?  In this particular instance, we get two totally different people.  Both of them are naturally at odds with each other.  You have five-star rating-obsessed  Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) paired with LAPD detective Vic Manning (Dave Bautista).  They couldn’t be more wrong for each other.  It is because of this that we are  able to just hop along for the ride.

Here’s what you need to know about Stu–he works at a sporting goods store and takes on a second job as an Uber driver.  He’s in love with Becca (Betty Gilpin) but she doesn’t know how he feels about him.  Becca wants to open a spin gym.  The most important thing is the five-star rating on Uber because Stulyft just doesn’t have the same feel to the word.  Vic is an LAPD detective formerly partnered with Sara Morris (Karen Gillan), who dies at the hands of Tedjo (Iko Uwais).  He’s divorced and not the best father to daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales).  After a flash-forward, Vic is undergoing Lasik eye surgery so Nicole helps out with setting up Uber on his phone because of the blurry vision.

Give credit to screenwriter Tripper Clancy for writing such a clever script.  Behind the camera, director Michael Dowse executes the film quite well with some brilliant performances from this cast, especially Kumail and Bautista.  The stakes are higher so it makes perfect sense for Kumail to take things up a notch from The Big Sick.  There might not be a scene where Kumail orders “one burger with four slices of the cheese.”  However, this doesn’t stop the comedian from putting on quite the show.  One of the best set pieces takes place in the Outside the Box Sporting Goods store between Kumail and Bautista.  It is outright hysterical.

While the film is hysterical, it’s disappointing that Karen Gillan and Natalie Morales don’t get enough screen time.  This is understandable because the film isn’t really about them.  In the case of Bautista’s Guardians of the Galaxy cast mate, this becomes understandable when one sees the film.  While the duo already have chemistry, we’re getting different performances out of them.  Meanwhile, Morales gets some serviceable material but again, the film is not about her.

I first saw the film as a work-in progress screening during SXSW.  In viewing the film a few months later, I can definitely say that it holds up.  Is it violent?  Sure.  This is to be expected for action comedies of this nature.  For what it’s worth, Stuber is sure to be a fun time.

DIRECTOR:  Michael Dowse
SCREENWRITER:  Tripper Clancy
CAST:  Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Iko Uwais, Natalie Morales, Betty Gilpin, Jimmy Tatro, with Mira Sorvino and Karen Gillan

Twentieth Century Fox opens Stuber in theaters on July 12, 2019. My SXSW red carpet interview can be found here. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.