Disclaimer: I’ve not ridden Uber since having a less than 5-star experience last year in an Amish area when they sent me the confirmation message, “Jedidiah is your driver, he will arrive in a day and a half.”
Part-time rideshare driver Stu Prasad (Kumail Nanjiani of “The Big Sick”), on the other hand, will do whatever it takes to elicit a top rating from his passengers — from offering chocolates and cool water to taking a bullet for them.
For “Stuber,” as he’s nicknamed by an obnoxious superior at the sporting goods shop that is his full-time job, the evening starts out uneventful: chauffeuring an eclectic array of app users as stingy with their stars as they are with their tips. Things take a turn when the heavy hand of grizzled detective Vic Manning (Dave Bautista, “Guardians of the Galaxy”) thumps the hood of his leased electric car, which he needs to commandeer to pursue a superbad druggie.
The pair then set out, though Stu does so only reluctantly, on a night of adventure. And, for the most part, laughter ensues.
Nanjiani is a master at under-the-breath punchlines and his sensitive millennial foil to Bautista’s Get’er-done LA cop works (think Charles Grodin to Robert De Niro in “Midnight Run”) pretty well. Take, for instance, Stu trying to get Vic in touch with his feelings (“It’s OK to call for backup”) or his reaction to a dive Vic brings him to (“Wow, this place is not gentrified at all”). And by the time Vic gets a pop-up on his phone that the Uber ride cost more than $5,000, he’s taught Stu something about being a man and Stu’s conveyed something, dare I say, “upLyfting,” about being a human being.
But the comedy is not without problems. For one thing, it doesn’t really find its groove until almost 40 minutes in and by then has committed to so many characters and backstories it can’t unpack it all, the exception being standout Natalie Morales as Vic’s daughter Nicole.
Still, the buddy-cop/road-trip is a reliable formula and this one doesn’t disappoint.
Rating: 2 ½ Honks