Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani in a scene from Stuber.
Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani in a scene from Stuber. Supplied

MOVIE REVIEW: Odd couple book a wild ride

STUBER

 

Three-and-a-half stars

Director: Michael Dowse

Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan

Rating: MA15+

Running time: 93 minutes

Verdict: A perfect mismatch

 

Kumail Nanjiani's alien chess piece (Pawny) was easily the best thing about Men In Black: International - and we didn't even get to see his face.

After stealing Chris Hemsworth's thunder in that flat-footed reboot, the Pakistani-American comedian steps out from behind the CGI to literally and figuratively drive this odd couple action comedy.

Against a familiar backdrop of ricocheting bullets and high-speed car chases, Nanjiani charts his own idiosyncratic route (beginning with a seven-point U-turn.)

While it's not clear how much of his material has been improvised, that doesn't really matter, since the writer/star of the Oscar-nominated semi-autobiographical rom-com The Big Sick delivers it in a way that makes it sounds like his own.

Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani in Stuber.
Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani in Stuber.

In his first lead role, Dave Bautista isn't quite as light on his feet as fellow wrestling champion Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, but the WWE circuit is a fertile apprenticeship for entertainers.

And Bautista's grizzled, monomaniacal detective makes an unusually solid foil for Nanjiani's humour (there are, of course, some well-placed digs about the big guy's surfeit of muscle).

Bautista's Guardians Of the Galaxy co-star, Karen Gillan, has a fun a cameo as his former partner.

And Natalie Morales (Parks And Recreation) does a lot with very little as his estranged daughter.

With more than a passing nod to the relationship between Deadpool and his taxi driver, Dopinder, Stuber tells the story of an old school LAPD detective, Vic Manning, who is obsessed with bringing a ruthless drug dealer and cop killer (Iko Uwais) to justice.

After his prescription glasses are knocked off during a face-off - to disastrous result - Manning signs up for laser surgery.

He is still recovering from the operation when he receives a tip-off about a big drug deal that is about to go down.

Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani in a scene from Stuber.
Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani in a scene from Stuber.

That's how Nanjiani's Uber driver, Stu, becomes involved.

Suffering from double vision, Manning is unable to drive or even shoot straight.

So Stu - who cannot afford another one-star review - becomes his reluctant sidekick in an escalating street war in which the odds are clearly stacked against them.

As the body count mounts and the car chassis burn, the unreconstructed muscleman and the metrosexual doormat slowly begin to rub off on each other.

Stu gives Manning a few unsought-after tips on parenting, and Manning responds with some brutal advice in relation to a woman Stu has had a crush on since high school.

There are a few potholes and speed bumps en route to bringing Uwais's villain to justice, but with Nanjiani behind the wheel, moviegoers can relax.

He's an inspired sidekick for Bautista.

The pair's quarrelsome screen chemistry carries this pedal-to-the-metal buddy movie past the flags.

Stuber opens on Thursday.


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