"Marred by Objectionable Content"
STUBER is the story of a beleaguered Uber driver who learns to stand up for himself while engaged in comically, harrowing night-driving an undercover cop around Los Angeles. Though extremely funny and entertaining, with lots of action and some moral, redemptive content, STUBER is marred by lots of strong foul language, some very strong bloody violence and brief lewd content that will turn off media-wise viewers.
The movie stars the highly unlikely but utterly terrific odd couple combo of former pro wrestler turned actor Dave Bautista of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY fame and rising star Kumail Nanjiani, who starred in the biggest indie hit of 2018 and scored an Oscar nomination for co-writing the movie THE BIG SICK. They make a winning pair in what could well become a modern action-comedy classic along the lines of the LETHAL WEAPON series.
The movie’s title refers to the title character, a Pakistani-American sporting goods store clerk named Stu who is broke and forced to drive for Uber the second he’s off work. His obnoxious jerk of a boss thus calls him Stuber. Also, the good-natured but put-upon Stu can’t seem to work up the nerve to declare his love for the girl of his dreams or know how to say no when she asks him to co-sign the business loan for her spin-cycle gym for women called Spinster.
Stu’s minding his business on another aimless evening when he gets a ride order from Vic (Dave Bautista), a burly undercover cop trying to race to two disparate destinations. First, Vic’s received word that a heroin dealer named Teijo (Iko Uwais) he’s been trying to bring down for years is doing a major drug deal that night. Vic wants to be there to bust him. Second, Vic’s daughter has an important showing of her sculptures at her art gallery the same night, and Vic’s promised to be there no matter what happens.
Complicating things further is the fact that Vic just had laser surgery on his eyes and is going to be blind for the next 12 hours as he recovers. After he hilariously crashes his car while trying to drive anyway, he calls an Uber for the first time in his life. Stu shows up and an insane night of personal and professional misadventures begins. It turns out Stu has an agenda of his own. The girl he loves has finally decided she wants to be intimate with him, and he’s determined to make it to her no matter what happens with Vic.
STUBER is a genuinely entertaining and inventive throwback to the great buddy-cop comedies of the 1980s, while layering in hilarious twists in the details of the movie. One prime example occurs when Stu shoots a bad guy in the leg and freaks out, begging Vic to take the villain to a hospital. Vic winds up leading him to an animal hospital because he’s taken possession of the criminal’s dog since it was force-fed heroin packets as a means of hiding them and the criminal “is an animal anyway.”
Other improbable locales include a shootout in a hot sauce factory and an interrogation at a strip club that turns out to have male strippers, along with clientele who keep trying to stuff dollar bills down Vic’s clothing as he storms through the club. During their misadventures, both Vic and Stu need to learn various aspects of being a man. Vic realizes he’s been a terrible father, and Stu decides he’s done being a doormat for everyone around him.
The increasing emotional sensitivity of the bone-crushing Vic and the slow-burning fury of the mild-mannered Stu results in hilarious banter throughout the movie. It also results in some surprising actions from each character as they evolve along the way. Director Michael Dowse made a splash back in 2011 with the indie cult classic comedy GOON about a slow-witted bouncer who becomes a semi-pro hockey star because of his sheer willingness to beat the tar out of his opponents. He uses his gift for combining bruising action and outrageous comedy here in STUBER.
Nanjiani steps up to the plate and hits a home run as Stu, in a role that with any justice will make him a very big star after a lengthy career in excellent supporting roles. Bautista also builds off his GUARDIANS turn as he applies the same gentle giant mode as Drax half the time in STUBER and full-on Schwarzenegger-style action heroics the other half.
The main downsides to this entertaining movie is the frequent foul language and the fact that some of the action scenes, including the opening, are too violently jarring, even for their genre. Thus, the movie is packed with action in the form of shootouts, chases and explosions, and has a profusion of obscene language that easily could have been toned down and turned into a PG-13 movie, thereby reaching a wider audience.
On the plus side, however, the movie has strong underlying themes of becoming better men. Vic has been a distant father to his now-adult daughter her whole life, and Stu convinces him he has to do better. This leads to a more positive relationship between Vic and his daughter.
Stu, meanwhile, learns to stand up for himself and not just always be pushed aside by the women in his life. He also learns not to be a doormat to Vic and all his other customers.
SPOILERS FOLLOW: In the end, STU is seen involved with Vic’s daughter in a happy, respectful relationship, and Vic comes over for dinner on Christmas night after ignoring most Christmases throughout his daughter’s life. The movie’s final shot even has a positive nod to Christianity and the true meaning of the holiday. As the daughter’s front door closes with a giant wreath on it, the line “Born is the King of Israel” from “The First Noel” is the last thing heard.
Just when the movie seems to be losing direction, its humor keeps it on track. However, the foul language, bloody violence and brief lewd content in STUBER will turn off media-wise viewers.
STUBER is an R-rated action comedy. Stu, a beleaguered store clerk moonlighting as an Uber driver, learns to stand up for himself during a comically harrowing night driving an undercover cop around Los Angeles. The cop, Vic, is trying to bring down a vicious drug dealer while also trying to make it in time for the showing of his daughter’s sculptures at a fancy art gallery. Meanwhile, Stu is determined to visit his girlfriend’s place for an overnight rendezvous.
STUBER is extremely funny and entertaining. It has many exciting action scenes and even some positive Christian and morally uplifting content. For example, there’s a positive reference to Jesus and the meaning of Christmas at the end. Also, both lead male characters learn to be better men. Despite this, STUBER has lots of strong foul language. In addition, some of the violence is excessive and too bloody. STUBER also has some lewd content that will turn off media-wise viewers. The movie easily could have been toned down to a PG-13 rating and reached a wider audience. Regrettably, STUBER is too excessive for most viewers.