Michael Dowse's Stuber is the funniest film of the year, meshing together Dave Bautista's straight-faced tough guy machismo and wit with Kumail Ninjiani's rapid-fire humor. It's the type of R-rated comedy that we need more of, fusing together over-the-top action (with real blood squibs!) with enough jokes to keep the momentum going on a minimalistic plot that might not be deep, but sure brings the entertainment.
Director Michael Dowse‘s (Take Me Home Tonight) latest comedy is an absolute success, with tough-guy-turned-comedic-actor Dave Bautista co-starring with frequent stand-up comedian/actor Kumail Ninjiani. Together, Bautista and Ninjiani make the best of Tripper Clancy‘s hilarious, yet simple script, guided by Dowse’s eye for humor and action to make for the funniest film of the year and one of the best times at the theater this summer.
Stuber follows dedicated cop Vic Manning (Dave Bautista) as he tracks down one of the city’s biggest drug dealers (Iko Uwais). Unfortunately for Vic, he happens to schedule lasik eye surgery on the same day that he receives a tip that the drug deal going down, which leads him to calling an Uber for a lift to his next destination. Stu (Kumail Ninjiani) answers the call, in hopes of bumping up his star rating before getting kicked off Uber as a reputable driver.
There’s a lot riding on this initially-simple transaction of transportation as Stu hopes to boost his star rating enough to get more riders to want to pick him, which means more money in his pocket to help fund the dream of a girl that he’s crushing on in hopes of furthering their relationship. At this point, Stu is too afraid to make a move, yet always there when she needs him the most. Vic on the other hand, happens to be obsessing over this case, despite being told to stand down from upper-management and despite the fact that his relationship with his daughter is crumbling as he continues to ignore her in order to not lose his struggling grip on the case. Stuber is a story of insecurities and responsibilities, wrapped in a bloody blanket and sprinkled with R-rated humor.
Director Michael Dowse does a splendid job getting past all of the set-up and mechanics of the story early on, utilizing Tripper Clancy‘s script to make way for an entertaining and hilarious R-rated buddy-cop flick.
Dowse puts Dave Bautista and Kumail Ninjiani in a blender and turns the speed setting to high, resulting in a scrambled mash-up of humor and horrors as the two learn to work together in the immediate sight of death and danger.
Bautista’s Vic is a seasoned veteran cop that’s tough as nails and probably hasn’t cried in over twenty years. He hides his emotions behind his massive biceps and his inability to cope with the past is almost always butting heads with his own present day priorities.
Bautista brings some of his straight-faced and overly-confident Drax humor to the role, but does a great job creating a completely different character that feels unique and like a subtle, but noticeable shift away from his previous comedy efforts. This alone makes the film worth a viewing, because Bautista is just so damn entertaining and energetic.
Kumil Ninjiani does channel a specific type of humor, which is the comedy that he’s known for and in this case, it works just fine for the film. He brings a lot of reactive comedy that feels directed and sometimes even subdued. There’s not so much anger or resentment as there is desperation. Watching his character “man up” or take responsibility for his own wants and needs is predictable, but still satisfying.
There’s just something about both Bautista and Ninjiani that feels like a perfect concoction of silly comedy and shoot ’em action. It’s lightning in a bottle. Everything about Stuber sounds dumb, yet the film works like gangbusters, because of its simple concept and near-perfect execution on all fronts.
I’m not sure how much credit should go to director Michael Dowse or how much of it should go to Tripper Clancy‘s writing efforts, because the combination of both helps make the entire production feel like an awesome way to kill a couple hours at the cinema.
Even Iko Uwais has a few minutes to show off some of his martial arts skills. His moments are brief, but help make the stereotypical bad guy role feel that much more credible. I hope this is the start of many more mainstream American roles as he truly is raw talent at its finest.
Stuber isn’t a martial arts film though. It does lean heavy on its action roots, with most of the shooting appearing to be done with practical effects and blood squibs, which made the entire experience that much more bad ass. There’s something about watching real mayhem and carnage in a good old-fashioned shoot out that can’t be replicated with CGI and an over-reliance on special effects.
I walked into Stuber expecting a few laughs and a flimsy premise, yet it delivered so much more. The jokes are fluid and continuous, the action is enjoyable and the overall story works more than it probably should have. I credit Dowse’s direction, Clancy’s writing and two engaging performances from Bautista and Ninjiani.
Stuber is going to make you laugh until your stomach hurts.