Written by: Hannah Tran | July 5th, 2019
Stuber (Michael Dowse) 1 out of 4 stars.
It turns out that some movies are only as good as their name. Take a look at this one, and you’ll know everything you need to know about the movie behind it. It’s stereotypical. It’s stiff. It’s Stuber, and it’s better left unwatched.
Depicting a day in the life of an Uber driver named Stu, who is both polite and a pushover, Stuber follows Stu’s accidental spiral into a revenge-bent police officer’s arrest operation. While Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista, who unsurprisingly portray Stu and the cop respectively, seem to be a perfectly unmatched match for this sort of buddy-cop film, their story crumbles as it tries to balance the conventions of its own genre, choosing to prioritize action and criminally put comedy in the backseat.
Like so many other recent movies, Stuber delivers a studio-style liberalism that believes it can pander to young audiences by merely containing trendy rideshare services and throwing out endless feminist buzzwords, meanwhile relegating the women within it to roles of mere motivation for the two leads and disregarding the fact that any suffering the men endure in relation to them is largely their own making. For all the talk this movie does about what makes a man a “man,” whatever changes the characters undergo must largely take place outside the scope of the 105 minute runtime. The story leans too heavily into the easy comedy that the two men’s differences supply, limiting them from truly transforming until it’s too late.
Its feigned “wokeness” rivals the company that now offers its wealthiest passengers the option to put their underpaid, benefitless servant on “quiet mode.” I’m talking about Uber, of course. I spent a large portion of the movie debating whether it was Uber propaganda or police propaganda. Either way, its excessive superficial attempts to brand itself as cool or progressive are largely upended by its devotion to its own genre.
Despite the evolution of the two characters being, in many ways, the movies greatest flaw, the wacky combination of the two is often its greatest strength. Perfectly cast, both men are funniest when the film plays most upon the concept of rideshare comedy. When it does, the movie feels like a fortuitous taxi cab improv exercise. When it doesn’t, it feels like yet another unmemorable summer action flick. Unfortunately, it too often chooses to live in the latter, proving especially unfortunate considering that nearly every action sequence is boring at worst and shaky at best.
While the film desperately seems to want to progress its genre, I am unconvinced that it has the imagination to do anything truly innovative with it. Its script is far too formulaic, and it seems clear that the movie would have been better off embracing that. It can never decide whether it wants to be a trendy, contemporary comedy or whether it wants to be a classic buddy-cop romp no different from the countless others that have come before it. Amongst this indecision, only one thing is certain: this Uber ride barely deserves its one-star rating.