Buddy action comedy runs on fumes in Dowse’s ‘Stuber’

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This image released by 20th Century Fox shows Dave Bautista (right), and Kumail Nanjiani (standing left), in a scene from ‘Stuber’, which releases in the US on July 12. (AP)

Jackson to star in Rock’s ‘Saw’ reboot

If you’re going to see one comedy starring Kumail Nanjiani as an Uber driver, please make it the 2017 film he co-scripted, “The Big Sick”.

In “Stuber”, Nanjiani is again behind the wheel of a compact ride-sharing vehicle, but this time, the comedy is running on fumes and the company (Zoe Kazan in “The Big Sick”, Dave Bautista in “Stuber”) isn’t nearly as good.

Stu is nicknamed “Stuber” by his obnoxious boss at a sporting goods store in a nod to his side gig. He’s conscripted by Bautista’s Vic, a Los Angeles police detective temporarily blinded by LASIK surgery, to drive him around town. Vic can hardly see, but he’s hell-bent on pursuing the most lethally acrobatic drug dealer you’ve ever seen (Iko Uwais of “The Raid”) who months ago killed Vic’s partner.

Stu, desperate for a five-star rating, is reluctantly sucked into a “Beverly Hills Cop”-like buddy action comedy that quickly turns violent and a little shrill. Nanjiani and Bautista, the hulking former wrestler best known as Drax in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, make a suitably odd pair. Stu is sensitive and nerdy, and desperate for his best friend (Betty Gilpin) to take him seriously as a romantic partner. Vic is gruff and bumbling and often appears almost literally as a bull in a china shop.

Tripper Clancy’s script – a kind of comic version of Michael Mann’s “Collateral”, with Tom Cruise as a contract killer and Jamie Foxx as his cabbie – crafts a hardly novel running dialogue of masculinity. Occasionally, it hits just right, like when Nanjiani summarizes their dynamic: “You’re built for justice. I’m built for brunch.” But most of the time, it flails around in a stale routine. During a fight at the sporting goods store, Stu exclaims: “Real men cry!”


The movie’s premise is one long Uber ad, but it’s a clever enough buddy comedy setup, and both Nanjiani and Bautista are good comic performers. So what’s missing here? Part of the trouble is that Bautista is playing too much to type (the twist on his brilliant Drax is that he’s lovably emotional), and few actors benefit from having their eyes taken from them.

That leaves most of the comedy to Nanjiani, and he does an admirable job trying to give the material a lift. But director Michael Dowse (“Goon”) struggles to find the right tone, leaning more into slapdash action scenes than jokes. Any chance of sustained chemistry between the two leads recedes in the rearview mirror.

Uber is already known for its global ride-hailing service, food delivery arm, and electric bike rentals. Now it has inspired a comedy action movie.

Dowse said Uber Technologies Inc neither sponsored the film and was not involved in any way with making the movie.

“There’s no sponsorship. We never reached out to them for permission or anything like that,” Dowse told Reuters Television.


LOS ANGELES: Samuel L. Jackson has joined Chris Rock in Lionsgate’s upcoming “Saw” reboot.

Production has officially begun on the film, in which Rock will play a police detective investigating a series of grizzly crimes. Jackson will portray Rock’s father. Max Minghella, who stars in Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and recently directed “Teen Spirit”, also joins the cast as the partner of Rock’s character. “Riverdale” actress Marisol Nichols will play a police captain.

Lionsgate is keeping details of the plot under wraps other than saying it will offer deviously treacherous traps, clever clues and the edge-of-the-seat suspense that fans expect.

“We think Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Rock along with Max Minghella and Marisol Nichols make this film completely special in the ‘Saw’ canon and we can’t wait to unleash this unexpected and sinister new story on fans of this franchise. This is next level of ‘Saw’ on full tilt,” said Joe Drake, chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. (Agencies)

Longtime “Saw” filmmakers Mark Burg and Oren Koules returned to produce “Saw”. Darren Lynn Bousman, who helmed the second, third and fourth “Saw” movies, is directing the new movie. The decision to revisit the series was inspired by Rock’s love of the franchise.

The franchise revolves around the fictional character John Kramer, also called the Jigsaw Killer, who traps victims in situations that test their will to live. Tobin Bell has portrayed Jigsaw in all eight films.

The upcoming “Saw” will be released on Oct 23, 2020. (Agencies)

By Jake Coyle

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