The new buddy comedy “Stuber” wants to be the best of both worlds.
It’s a comedy that wants to be a self-aware study of the cliches of its genre, but it also wants to use those same cliches to get most of its laughs. It’s a film where leads Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista and, most importantly, the audience deserve better.
Nanjiani plays Stu, a mild-mannered Uber driver stuck in a dead-end job and put firmly in the friend zone by the women he loves (Betty Gilpin).
Stu’s mundane world gets an unexpected jolt when his latest ride is a hard-nosed detective named Vic Manning (Bautista). Manning is hot on the trail of an elusive drug kingpin and his henchman who gunned down Manning’s partner six months earlier.
This is much more than Stu bargained for, with the mild-mannered Uber driver forced to team up with Manning and help him solve the case – despite Stu’s clear objection to getting involved.
Bautista and Nanjiani make a pretty good comedic team – with Bautista willing to play off his tough guy image from his WWE days to get a laugh. Even when Tripper Clancy’s script doesn’t give them the sharpest jokes to work with, the pair manage to at least get a chuckle just because they are willing to work so hard to make the audience smile.
Most of the best moments come early, highlighted by Stu getting relationship advice from a male stripper, with the laughs eventually taking a back seat to a lot of bloodshed.
That’s not the only problem with Clancy’s screenplay – which starts out as an examination of the buddy comedy genre, teasing something a little bit deeper and self-aware, only to fall into every single trope that we’ve seen in the genre a million times.
Even the moments meant to be surprises are pretty straightforward – with a supporting cast that includes Mira Sorvino and Natalie Morales who are not given nearly enough to work with to really make an impact.
And therein lies the disappointment with “Stuber,” because it’s a film that you can see where it could have worked and where it goes wrong. “Stuber” tries really hard to seem original but, in the end, it is nothing more than another lap around a very familiar track.