ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times
Uber drivers face their share of weird/crazy every day as they go about their jobs and the recently released movie “Stuber” explores just how crazy one day can get. The film follows meek Uber driver Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) who becomes part of LAPD detective Vic Manning’s (Dave Bautista) arrest/sting operation against the drug lord who murdered his partner.
The only knowledge I had about this movie was a trailer I had seen before another video I’d been watching on YouTube and this past weekend, a trip to the movies was in order and “Stuber” was ultimately what I ended up seeing. While I normally come away from a new movie either really liking it or really disliking it, I came away from “Stuber” with a mostly “Meh” feeling about the movie overall.
The first gripe I have about this movie is how it didn’t really seem to have a set tone and couldn’t quite decide whether it wanted to be a buddy comedy or dramatic thriller – the movie has a death within the first five minutes (along with other blood and violence throughout) but there are also jokes, so it felt like rather a mess and there were points where I wasn’t entire sure how to respond. I couldn’t help but wonder afterward as I was walking home “How much better could this movie have been if it had settled into just one genre?”
And that leads into another gripe I have, which is how the leads are ultimately wasted because the movie isn’t settled into one genre. Bautista has shown he is capable of tapping into both his comedic and more dramatic sides in his past works, but ultimately, we don’t get the chance to see him do that deep dive because the messy tone doesn’t give him the chance to do that in this role, which is a shame. And while Nanjiani proved he has good comedic timing throughout the movie, again, we don’t get to see him fully tap into that because the tone’s such a mess. On the flip side of that, however, I did like the chemistry between these two and thought they played off each other really well in their scenes together. If the movie had stuck to being an opposites attract/buddy comedy, I really think the movie’s energy would have been off the charts and everything would have flowed much, much more smoothly. Unfortunately though, we’ll never know how such a movie would have ended up.
Something else that could have helped the movie’s tone was the overall script. The dialogue isn’t terrible, but if there had been some changes to the script and screenplay, that would have greatly helped, and that would have helped me feel more for the characters and we would have maybe gotten some more overall character development.
Another thing I wasn’t entirely fond of was the amount of profanity in the movie. As I said in a past review, it’s not necessarily the language itself that bothers me, but rather how after a certain point, it’s really just lazy writing. This movie doesn’t quite reach the level of “The Boondock Saints” profanity-wise, but it was enough (in my opinion) to somewhat turn me off what was going on in the movie.
One of the things I did like about the movie was how it offered some insight (no matter how far-fetched) into some of the crazy situations Uber drivers must go through. Obviously the scenarios in this movie were portrayed for entertainment purposes, but another thing I couldn’t help wondering on my way home was “How much B.S. does the average Uber driver have to deal with in the span of one shift? Those people must be absolute saints!” So overall, my hat tips off to Uber/Lyft/taxi drivers for having the fortitude and patience to deal with whatever craziness you have to deal with from your fares.
Another thing I found rather interesting was how in a subtle way, the movie was also about dealing with toxic relationships. We see Stu deal with his sort-of relationship with his friend Becca (who he secretly loves but doesn’t have courage to tell her), and Vic tells Stu a story about a time his father left him alone in the desert in order to teach him to “be a man.” That overall plot point is dealt with very subtly, but is one of the few things the movie actually does well
Overall, I would give this movie a “C” grade. There were more hit moments than miss, but the movie overall still felt rather rushed and messy. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon, but don’t be surprised if you forget you bought the ticket. If you’re truly interested in seeing this movie, you might do better to wait until it hits RedBox or Netflix so you don’t feel like you’re wasting too much money. The movie’s rated R for for violence and language throughout, some sexual references and brief graphic nudity and is currently in theaters.