Friday, July 12, 2019

Less-than-perfect 'Stuber' shoots and scores a bit with typical summer pals

Bad guys generally don't have a prayer with Nanjiani and Bautista.
There's some OK news about "Stuber," the new buddy pic with rassler-turned actor Dave Bautista co-starring as one of the principals. Truth be told, it's infinitely more entertaining than the big guy's WWE comeback match last spring, when he somehow lost at Wrestlemania to the egomaniac and dreadful bore known as "Triple H."

Now, Bautista, a real find as the alien Drax in the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies, has a more engaging co-conspirator. That would be the titular guy named Stu, a part-time Uber driver so niftily portrayed by Kumail Nanjiani, the comic who himself knocked one out of the park in 2017's "The Big Sick." Together they check off all the boxes of an old-school summer hit: excessive violence, raunchy humor, sexual possibilities and a combination of total silliness and smart one-liners likely to make you laugh out loud.

Naturally, Bautista's Vic Manning provides the muscle as a kind of rogue cop whose mayhem on the run during the opening carnage at the largest entertainment complex in downtown L.A. helps get his partner killed and the really bad guy (legitimate martial artist Iko Uwais) to escape. Oh, yeah, the vicious-when-he-wants-to-be Vic is severely nearsighted, too.

The latter consequence not only instigates some Mr. Magoo-like guffaws, but driving too quickly after lasik surgery gets Vic into a ridiculous predicament that calls for Uber. Enter Nanjiani's wise-acre Stu, a witty Pakistani whose own "man-up" problems include falling too hard for a business partner (Betty Gilpin), and working days for a sporting goods boss (Jimmy Tatro) that treats him like dirt.

Anyway, the chase is definitely on and, in between action moments, both Gilpin, now making the movie scene after her significant role on the Netflix comedy "GLOW," and Tatro, a YouTube superstar, take advantage of the outrageousness of it all.

More grounded co-stars sit on Vic's side of the wild ride. The seemingly ubiquitous Natalie Morales does what she can as his talented sculptor daughter, while Mira Sirvino makes her ranking police officer memorable if only for seeing the Oscar winner in a mainstream movie once again.

Speaking of which, with so little competition opening this weekend, don't be surprised when everyone involved makes a killing at the box office. Besides, since another Vic/Stu connection featured at the end of this one would provide a perfect starting point for a sequel, let's just call it "S2ber" and start shooting -- literally and figuratively -- again right now.

Rated "R": violence and language throughout, some sexual references and brief graphic nudity; 1:33; $ $ $ out of $5

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