The buddy cop movie is a tired, been-there-done-that genre, but Hollywood keeps churning them out. When done right, they are a well-balanced mix of chemistry, action and comedy (think Beverly Hills Cop, The Guard, Turner & Hooch). Stuber is the latest entry in this perennial offering. The bad news? It’s not going down favorably in the buddy cop hall of fame.
Vic (Dave Bautista, Avengers: Endgame) is a veteran cop hot on the case of a drug dealer who killed his partner. He’s a behemoth of a man who, after receiving a hot tip on the same day he’s had LASIK surgery, ends up conscripting an unsuspecting Uber driver in his dogged pursuit of justice. The driver is Stu (Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick), who’s as mild as a milquetoast. He works at a sporting goods store by day and drives for Uber at night. Hence the title: Get it? Stuber? This is the first of many jokes that are beaten to death by the filmmakers.
Sticking to the buddy-movie formula, our mismatched heroes bicker and banter their way through catching the bad guys and dealing with their personal problems. Dialogue can make or break a movie like this. Here, Tipper Clancy’s script has a fun concept and occasional lines that really hit the mark. Nanjiani and Bautista make the most of those fleeting moments. Fortunately, there’s enough of them to make you root for Vic and Stu. Unfortunately, Clancy doesn’t know how to let a joke go, and there’s a lot of redundancy in the patter between our leads that even Nanjiani can’t keep fresh.
Director Michael Dowse (Goon) is as inconsistent with the balance and pacing of the film as Clancy is with the dialogue. There is an excess of violence and bloodshed that can only work (and be acceptable) in a movie like this with an equal match of wit and levity. Nanjiani and Bautista do their best, utilizing their respective talents to save the day, but instead it looks as if someone should just call them a Lyft.