We are losing track of the genres that “Hollywood doesn’t make anymore”. The mismatched buddy-buddy cop comedy, surely somewhere on that list, makes a comeback in this agreeably chaotic mid-summer diversion. Okay, as we well see, Stuber doesn’t technically qualify, but if it walks and quacks like a duck in the same car as a differently tempered goose than we can call it a duck.
As ever in such things, the central pairing is surrounded by an unnecessarily complicated arrangement of MacGuffins that only the screenwriters could care about (though I am not certain of even that). Dave Bautista plays Vic, an LA cop who, in the opening frames, loses his partner (Karen Gillan) to one part of a drug cabal that may or may not have connections throughout the police department. He receives a tip that takes him to…
Oh never mind that baloney. Words can scarcely convey the perfunctory nature of the wider plotting. All you need to know is that Vic is rendered temporarily blind and is forced to summon an Uber to drive him from one suspect to the next. The driver is called Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) and he is not cut out for the gunplay and the aggressive language. Stu? Stuber? Get it?
Bautista and Nanjiani prove to be a perfectly complementary comic partnership. The former’s looming aggression fails to wholly conceal a latent sensitivity. The latter’s gentle introspection is seasoned with streaks of sombre dissatisfaction. Both have good fun with the other’s growing public persona.
In one tasty return Stu suggests that a white person should not be allowed to behave as Vic does in an African-American environment. Vic’s outraged clarification that he is black has things to say about the media’s uncertainty when dealing with mixed-race personalities (Bautista is of Greek and Fillipino descent).
For the most part, however, the gags are speedy, undemanding and indecently funny. The pair drive about all corners of LA in a film that – not shot in Vancouver or Atlanta – retains a worthwhile sense of place.
The impressively gory violence suggests a commitment to sell amusingly dumb comedy to deserving adults.
They don’t make them like they used to. Have a laugh while you’re able.
Opens on July 12th