Cinematic Releases - Collaterally Damaged: Stuber (2019) - Reviewed

It was only a matter of time before someone came around with making a comedy about Uber drivers. It seems like technological advancements always, in one way or another, find their way into films at some point, yet Stuber caught me by surprise by having a generous amount of actually great comedy without giving away everything in its trailers. Barring its reprehensibly stupid title, this is a crime buddy comedy in the vein of 2016's Central Intelligence, though a more apt comparison would probably be to call it a comedy take on Michael Mann's Collateral. They have very similar premises, but Stuber does enough to distinguish itself from the other two without appearing to be that much of a copycat.

We follow a gruff and burly Dave Bautista as a cop who commandeers an Uber ride driven by comedian Kumail Nanjiani. Bautista's own macho man behavior becomes a perfect antithesis to Nanjiani's timid cab driver personality, but it's so much more than simply a stupid hour and a half of wild screaming and gun fights. There's actually an interesting plot (gasp!) behind it that managed to catch me off-guard a little with a few surprises and, while the plot itself remains predictable and standard set against other recent partner comedies, Stuber had a lot more going for it than I expected it to.

There's actually a lot to be appreciated from Stuber that makes it a genuinely enjoyable comedy and not just a wasted 100-minute filler while waiting for an arriving flight. Bautista is great as ever in hardened cop Vic, who is fighting against a temporarily blurred vision throughout his quest put on him by having LASIK eye surgery the same day as his big drug bust is supposed to go down. This, of course, is where Stu (Nanjiani) comes in with his silly electric car taxiing Vic all over New York City as a reluctant counterpart. They clash and bash and have all sorts of fun little moments that you might expect wildly differing personalities to have in this kind of comedy, and that's alright, for once. Its standard comedic formula doesn't rely on jokes that try too hard or never land their exact moments, but at times instead had me rolling around in my seat from the amount of snickering I had to endure.

Maybe it is a bit of a generic filler summer comedy, but for what it's worth Stuber is a real fun time. Nanjiani proves himself as a force to be reckoned with in comedy, both on and off the stage, giving a generously hilarious performance that many should find genuinely entertaining. Plenty of backstory for both our principal characters ensure that there's enough going on in its plot to put some real weight behind its briefly heavier moments, and its a relationship that can almost be felt, for once, for a comedy of this kind. Don't go in expecting anything more than a fluffy and occasionally violent popcorn comedy and you won't be disappointed.

-Wes Ball