Screenwriter Tripper Clancy went on Twitter recently to declare his script for Stuber was “a love letter to all the awesome 80s action comedies I grew up with.”
Modern-day viewers with no recollection of the blokey, jokey blow-’em-ups Clancy is referencing may misinterpret the scribe’s intentions, and cancel Stuber as tone-deaf claptrap relic from a bygone age.
Let the record show that Stuber will certainly go down as one of the more polarising releases of recent times, particularly for a mainstream comedy.
Put it this way: if you haven’t laughed by the three-minute mark, there’s no chance you’ll be emitting a single chuckle for the duration.
Otherwise, this big, dumb and broad affair will totally amuse and moderately adrenalise anyone with a fondness for the fast, the furious and the funny.
Like many an 80s action comedy, there’s a pro-am pairing of a hard-knuckled cop and a soft-centred civilian going up against a major crime about to go down.
Vic is the no-nonsense police officer in question, and is played with endearingly brawny indifference by Dave Bautista (Drax from the Guardians of the Galaxy gang).
The ordinary fella who gets caught up in Vic’s latest case is a rather desperate Uber driver named Stu, played by Kumail Nanjiani (breakout star of last year’s sleeper hit The Big Sick).
While Bautista and Nanjiani do not share the most electrifying chemistry as a comedy duo, the weirder excesses of the story underpinning Stuber covers for their lack of spark.
Many of the odder and most inventive developments stem from a character wrinkle concerning Vic: he has just had corrective eye surgery on the same day as a huge drug bust only he can intercept.
Near blind, but not about to let the bad guys win, Vic holds Stu as a virtual hostage-cum-chauffeur as he tries to stop the big deal.
There is no chance anybody is going to confuse Stuber with Booksmart. It is here to briefly excite, amuse and then vanish from the memory.
Nevertheless, what it does well (excellent stunt choreography, surreal comic flourishes) deserves a look from those who dig such fare.