In “The Big Sick,” Kumail Nanjiani endearingly played an Uber driver — actually, a comedian who drives Uber part-time — in love. In “Stuber,” Nanjiani also plays an Uber driver — actually, a big-box store employee and would-be gym owner who drives Uber part-time — in love, and it’s also kind of endearing. Kind of. Unfortunately, it’s a performance plopped into a movie that’s more interested in stunts, gunfire and carnage than in Nanjiani’s particular brand of gently sardonic comedy.
“Stuber” — Nanjiani’s Uber-driving character is named Stu, get it? — is one of those one-joke premises: A Los Angeles police detective named Vic (Dave Bautista) gets a hot tip about his longtime nemesis, a murderous drug dealer (Iko Uwais) — but, as Vic has just had LASIK surgery, he can’t hop into his car and chase after him. Enter Stu, the sort of driver who offers bottled water and a variety of snacks in his impeccable Nissan Leaf. Wacky car-related high jinks and a lot of bullets — and bodies — ensue.
Though it’s not without its funny moments — particularly a scene in a male strip club, in which Stu receives some earnest life advice from a stripper whose weirdly 18th-century-ish costume involved a lace jabot over a bare chest — “Stuber” too often just feels out of balance. The scenes in which Nanjiani’s Stu pines after Becca (Betty Gilpin) seem spliced-in from another movie, and the casualty count is awfully high for what’s supposed to be a lighthearted action flick. Ultimately, despite Nanjiani’s best efforts, it’s a disposable fast-car summer movie, neither terrible or good, for those biding their time before the next “Fast & Furious” installment. Which is coming, for the record, Aug. 2. I’d wait.
★★ “Stuber,” with Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Iko Uwais, Natalie Morales, Betty Gilpin, Jimmy Tatro, Mira Sorvino, Karen Gillan. Directed by Michael Dowse, from a screenplay by Tripper Clancy. 93 minutes. Rated R for violence and language throughout, some sexual references and brief graphic nudity. Opens July 12 at multiple theaters.
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