Warning: This review contains plot elements and alludes to the fate of a character. Perhaps it’s best you don’t read it at all.
Given the current state of American film comedy you might be forgiven for having rock bottom expectations for this tired old mismatched buddy comedy with a novel spin – namely a supercop dragging a Uber driver into the pursuit of a drug lord, when an eye operation means he can’t act on a tip off.
Well, you’d be wrong – but only just. Stuber, despite having all the hallmarks of a mirthless modern trudge – namely characters all occupying a comic sketch universe, references to pop culture instead of jokes, broad slapstick and entire scenes inadvertently ripped from The Simpsons (“Meeeennnddooozzzzaaaaaa!)”, just about makes it over the line. Why? Because all concerned had the sense to do enough work on the plot to make the contrivances required to facilitate the headline joke, land. Both leads are likeable and committed in their respective roles as the vengeful superhuman cop who can’t cry and the driver who can’t man up and take control of his life. You won’t be shocked to learn that each solves the other’s problem as they bond in extremis.
Stuber’s a frustrating watch because it’s just good enough to make you think that had more attention been paid to the choreography and execution of the action sequences, and had real jokes with good setups and solid punchlines been placed in the mouths of the buddies, this could have been a Lethal Weapon-like pleasure.
Instead, the movie’s a throwaway gag that tosses off contributions from the likes of Karen Gillan, who in a better flick would have played a more substantial role. The film, alas, has no greater ambition for her than an extended cameo.
If the filmmakers won’t take the movie seriously there’s no reason for us to, but Stuber’s nevertheless an entertaining diversion on the strength of its leads alone. In another era with a different attitude to film action comedy, indeed comedy in general, this might have been the start of a beautiful friendship. Instead it’s surely as conclusive as the $5,500 fare that closes proceedings.