The evolution of the buddy comedy has been an interesting thing to watch. It seems a common denominator is a cop and usually you can pair them with another cop or the convict, the “regular” guy just caught up in everything seems to work better. While it may feel like this sub-genre of films peaked in the 80’s with films like 48 Hours and of course Lethal Weapon , there are still some gems out there to be seen. Lately the go-to seems to be putting a big strong guy with a puny funny guy and while you hope laughs will follow, it’s all about the pairings that either make it work or cause it to fail miserably.
Life itself can be a funny thing, and in the words of someone funnier than me, the world has plenty of people who are ambitious, we need more people who just settle. Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) is one of those guys, as he works at a sporting goods store and is also an Uber driver, all to help a girl he has been in love with. Stu’s life is pretty mundane, but that changes when he picks Vic (Dave Bautista), who is a cop that because of eye surgery needs a ride to get to the biggest bust of his life. Along the way things happen, including Stu shooting his first person and discovering new uses for both dog food and hot sauce. Of course while Vic is forcing Stu to help him catch this elusive bad guy, the love of Stu’s life is in need and wants Stu to come over and save her day. As the night progresses, Stu finds his spine, while Vic finds his feelings all while trying to catch the bad guy and to get that five star rating.
As I said, what makes these movies work usually always comes down to the pairing, at least for me it is always that simple. Just because you are a comedian and you are funny, that doesn’t guarantee you will be funny next to everyone. For me a prime example is Kevin Hart, who just doesn’t always pair well with his buddy. With Stuber the pairing of Bautista and Nanjiani works, but Nanjiani is doing all the heavy lifting and because of that he makes what’s on the surface a rather dull movie watchable. Nothing about the story is interesting, it’s predictable and while we get to see Iko Uwais from The Raid films do some cool Iko things, everything feels just bland instead of being in the moment. Nanjiani though brings the heat and will for sure make you laugh with what is his signature deadpan delivery.
I know these movies are not made to be memorable, but something to help keep us engaged would be nice. Comedies can be the biggest enigma, because when they work, they work so well, but like a joke, often they just fall flat. Stuber is not a complete failure, but unfortunately joins the ranks of a pretty weak summer. I give Nanjiani a five star rating, but for the ride that is this movie, it gets two stars, I won’t be riding along with this one again.