It’s tough enough being an Uber driver without Hollywood deciding that it’s a job ripe with comedic potential. The mostly awful ‘Stuber’ takes as its premise the idea that mild-mannered Uber driver Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) will do anything to get a five-star rating, up to and including driving around a maniac loose-cannon cop (Dave Bautista) on the trail of a violent drug lord. Clearly surge pricing also applies to jokes, because it’s mostly about as funny as a traffic jam.
Like a kind of comedy ‘Collateral’, ‘Stuber’ (‘Stu’ plus ‘Uber’, see?) has the odd couple driving around LA because Bautista’s cop, Vic, is recovering from eye surgery and can’t take the wheel. Cue bickering, witless banter – ‘You look like all the ugly people in every race fucked,’ Stu tells Vic – and some unexpectedly lurid violence. It’s another one of those action-comedies that reaches for the R-rated edge of ’80s buddy cop comedies like ‘48 Hrs.’ and ‘Beverly Hills Cop’, only to fall short on both charm and laughs.
‘The Raid’ star Iko Uwais is as explosive as you’d expect in the otherwise humdrum fight scenes, but gets little else to do as the generic bad guy, while the ace Betty Gilpin (‘Glow’) is condemned to a role as Stu’s shallow-as-a-puddle kinda-love interest. Nanjiani, who also played an Uber driver in the infinitely better ‘The Big Sick’, gets some decent lines but the usually infectious Bautista mislays his beefy charm as the raging Vic and their chemistry is weak. This trip gets one star.