Saturday, July 13, 2019

Stuber – so bad it’s good (if you’ve an appetite for violent comedy films)

By never taking itself too seriously, Stuber delivers hilarious laughs in the middle of really gruesome scenes. It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure to watch. The trailer promises a naff comedy with lots of driver/passenger shtick, yet the 93-minute film is a summer delight.

An explosive opening sequence lifts the hearts of Doctor Who fans who get to see what companion Amy Pond would have been like as an actual policewoman, albeit it without the miniskirt. Cool under pressure, gritty and aggressive. Playing Sara, Karen Gillan establishes that her police partner Vic (Dave Bautista) is a clumsy cop man who lacks tactics and is short on insight. I’d love to see a second film made that uses the first five minutes but sees Vic shot instead of (spoiler) Sara.

We pick up six months later as Vic makes the poor decision to get laser treatment on his eyes on the same day as his daughter’s sculpture exhibition will open. Enter Stu (Kumail Nanjiani), his Uber driver who works in retail by day and this evening is about to pick up a fateful fare. Vic has a lead on the gangster who killed his partner, and over a long and ferocious evening, the pair traverse Los Angeles on a mission of justice, all the while straining against the unseen face of corruption and duplicity.

The magic of Stuber is that it walks the tightrope between pastiche and comedy flop, balancing an on-screen self-awareness of its genre without just playing for laughs or becoming a violent gorefest. Director Michael Dowse knows what’s doing with Tripper Clancy’s script. The Hillary and Tedtalk jokes are apt. The social media torture scene is inventive. Gunfights have comedy moments. The snowglobe is a great visual moment. And there are dogs. Relationship sub-plots for both idiotic lead characters gently add to the jeopardy and provide a wholesome payoff at the end.

A Disney film with an odd couple who teach us about masculinity and male insecurity, about the limits of electric vehicles, and an Uber driver who goes the extra mile to get five stars. Who’d have thought?! ‘So bad it’s good’ should be the screaming quote on Stuber’s movie posters. Nearly perfect summer viewing.

Stuber is currently playing in most local cinemas.

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