Movie review: Action-comedy 'Stuber' barely worth the ride

Brad Keefe

There’s a high degree of difficulty to cross-genre movies, hitting upon the right mix that will please fans of whatever forms you’re trying to mash up.

The action-comedy “Stuber” suffers its share of hits and misses on this front, offering passable entertainment but frustrating in its unrealized potential.

The tough guy/weak guy pairing is worn territory, but Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista do share enough spirited banter to make me wish for future collaborations.

Stu (Nanjiani) is living the modern American dream — in that he has taken on a second gig to supplement his income, in this case as an Uber driver.

Vic (Bautista) is a muscle-bound L.A. cop obsessively searching for the baddie who killed his partner.

On the day he is recovering from Lasik surgery (yes, really), Vic gets the tip for which he’s been waiting. But with his vision impaired, he must rely on his Uber driver, who, if you couldn’t guess by the movie’s unimaginative title, is Stu.

Stu is obsessed with five-star reviews because he’s saving money for a business venture with his coworker, Becca (Betty Gilpin of “GLOW”). Oh, and he’s secretly in love with her, too.

But as the night wears on, Stu finds himself becoming the wheel-man for Vic’s crime-fighting, which comes with an ever increasing body count.

The challenge for director Michael Dowse is balancing the comedy and action, and the end result is a hit-and-miss collection.

Nanjiani’s polite charm and delivery carry most of the funny, even though we’ve seen this fish-out-of-water act before. Regardless, he’s got comedic star potential on display here.

Former pro wrestler Bautista also has great comedic timing to go with his brute strength, carving a lane similar to another ex-wrestler, Dwayne “Stop Calling Me the Rock” Johnson.

“Stuber” works best when it’s operating light as a fluffy buddy comedy, so it's often at odds with the R-rated violence that accompanies the silly.

The action will scratch the itch for adrenaline fans, although the plot is a dud. Nobody is watching this movie to solve a mystery. Likewise, it could have tipped the scale to over-the-top to better accent the humor.

“Stuber” is generally unable to lift itself above a decent summer distraction, but if you want 90 minutes in the air-conditioning with some laughs, it’ll do.


Opens Friday

2 stars (out of five)