Rated R, 93 minutes
The charmingly violent, sporadically funny new buddy comedy "Stuber" is like ordering a McDonald's plain hamburger and receiving a cheeseburger instead. I mean, your expectations aren't set high to begin with (it's McD's after all) but the cheese comes as a pleasant surprise. A throwback to '80's buddy comedies - think "Turner and Hooch" crossed with "Lethal Weapon" - "Stuber" tries ever so hard to please, and is decent mid-summer fun thanks in part to the charm of its leads and not its stale, forgettable plotting.
A mild-mannered Uber driver named Stu ("The Big Sick's" Oscar-nominated and witty Kumail Nanjiani) picks up Vic ("Guardians of the Galaxy's" Dave Bautista) a grizzled detective who is hot on the trail of a sadistic, bloodthirsty terrorist (Iko Uwais) who murdered his partner (in a bit of nifty casting, is Karen Gillan, aka Nebula from "Guardians of the Galaxy"). Stu soon finds himself thrust into a harrowing ordeal where he has to keep his wits, avoid danger, and work with his passenger while maintaining his high customer service rating.
If it weren't for Nanjiani and Bautista - well, mainly Nanjiani's witty one-liners, "Stuber" would be a one-star ride for sure. Directed by by "Take Me Home Tonight's" Michael Dowse with a script by Tripper Clancy, "Stuber" tries too hard to please and wants to have something for everyone, namely all the jokes and blood, but Nanjiani and Bautista keep it flowing for most of its thankfully efficient running time. Bautista, best known as Drax in Marvel's "Galaxy" series, wears the gruff part well as he enters his Rock movie phase, while the easy-going Nanjiani has all "Stuber's" best one-liners ("Hey, lemme guess, you want me to drive you to all the Sarah Connors in the city?" and "It's a lease!").
Without its appealing leads, "Stuber" would be lost in its silly, overly and unnecessarily bloody storyline, the outcome which you can see coming well before you get there. And as much as I like both Bautista and Nanjiani, it's also misogynistic in its treatment of its supporting female characters, with "Parks and Recreation's" Natalie Morales underused, while "GLOW's" Betty Gilpin and Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino (yes, that Mira Sorvino) mostly wasted under some plot shenanigans that are never fully realized.
Due to its violence and occasional stupidity, "Stuber" isn't exactly a great advertisement for Uber's popular ride-share program, but I raise its ride rating (and the + in my rating) in part because Nanjiani is so darn funny and the real reason to see the film, which seems a tad below his talents. While it isn't saying much, "Stuber" is funnier than expected, though you may not remember much of it after you leave the theater.