I didn’t have super high expectations walking into Stuber, but I was hoping it would surprise me. Bad news: It didn’t.
I’m not gonna lie, I was mildly optimistic about this one, as the plot seemed fun and fresh enough to be a delightfully random summer comedy. Sadly, it got a little too mired down in creating a complicated and intricate plot, and completely abandoned its primary objective: to entertain its audience.
The opening simply just took too long. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love Karen Gillan, and seeing her appear in the opening sequence of this movie was a bit of a delightful surprise, but the whole thing ate up too much screen time. I had time to wonder if Karen Gillan was going to be in the whole movie, consider whether or not to worry about it, and decide her character was probably going to die sooner rather than later all in the time it took to set up one aspect of this plot.
After the opening inciting action took a while, so did actually getting Stu and Vic together in the car, which is what I went to see. We had to endure the set up of both Stu’s personal life as a sporting goods store clerk, and Vic’s life as a narcotics officer in the LAPD. I don’t remember looking at my watch to see how much time had elapsed from the start of the film, but we spend at least the first 20-25 minutes just getting to the car. And it just took too damn long.
But okay, once we get these two together, we have Vic needing to use an Uber to get around thanks to some poorly timed lasik surgery, and Stu just trying to finish up one final Uber ride so he can get over to hang with his unrequited love. This is where the plot just got too intricate for its own good. We have threads involving Stu and Becca, his platonic best friend who he is secretly head over heels for, Vic being a not-so-splendid father to his daughter, Nicole, the actual main plot thread of Vic trying to take down the drug runner who killed his partner, the dirty cop making Vic’s life way more difficult than it should have been, etc, etc.
There’s just too much going on. I really do wish the criminal storyline would have been simplified, just to keep the focus on the best part.
The only thing that worked and worked well in this movie was Kumail Nanjiani. And when he was on, he was really on. I don’t remember audibly laughing much for the first third of this movie, but once Stu got in a little too deep, the brilliance of Kumail Nanjiani rose to the surface. No matter how unengaged I was with the plot or with Dave Bautista’s Vic, I never wanted to look away from Stu.
The man was a genius in this film, taking on the funny man role with gusto. He had a lot of material to work with once the plot got good and moving. There are a plethora of great reaction GIFs hanging out in this movie, if anyone cares to go grab them. I would say 95% of them are of Kumail’s face, whether he’s disgusted at the carnage in front of him, shocked at Vic’s matter-of-factness, screaming in terror as he watches his lease slowly disintegrate as his electric car gets decimated one piece at a time, or some combo of all the above.
I didn’t really enjoy Stuber, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Thank goodness for Kumail and his delightful face. There are other elements of the film that aren’t total trainwrecks either, but its hard to remember anything but Kumail’s reactions and the disappointingly intricate plot. Stuber suffered from just trying to do too much for a summer, off-the-wall comedy. Hopefully the other action comedies coming down the pike don’t suffer similar ills. Because that would make for a very dreary summer movie season.