Regular L&D readers are probably aware that we do not coordinate who, if anyone, is going to write and post the next review. Typically, we write about things that we are moved to write about, either because there was something we liked, something that made us think, or something particularly irritating about what we just saw. More often than not, it’s all three. One of us usually feels compelled to write something down, and sometimes we both do. On the other hand, for a number of movies neither of us has the time or the inclination to get something together, so it just hangs out there without comment.
That preamble perhaps provides a glimpse into the delayed response in producing a review for our next feature, Stuber, which we saw on opening night almost a full week ago. As we headed past the Taco Bell, we were vaguely aware that the reviews were tepid. But we both think Kamail Nanjiani is pretty funny and we both thought he was pretty much the funniest part of the decidedly disappointing MiB offering, so we held out hope that this wouldn’t be a complete disaster.
And I think our low expectations were rewarded. Without laboring over the plot details (see above), we laughed out loud a few times and found a lot of things to like — for instance, the tremendous scene involving a rogue propane tank tops my list of comic violence. So I think the movie sort of worked for me and I think at this point it’s fair to say that Nanjiani can carry his weight in a comedy. As an action movie or a drama, well, let’s just say it works pretty well as a comedy.
The biggest disappointment I’m going to say is the malutilization of the great Iko Uwais, a man with virtually unparalleled action-film martial artistry; I’m pretty sure you could chain him to a table with his hands behind his back and he could still kick Jason Strahan’s butt, for instance. We last saw Iko in Mile 22 and he is an absolute machine. However, it wasn’t until I looked at the credits to write this review that I saw that he played the evil dude in this one, and let’s just say I was extremely disappointed. That opening fight sequence featuring Uwais and Nanjiani’s co-star, the musclebound Dave Bautista? Ah, what could have been.
So we headed home with a better understanding of why the reviews were so tepid, it’s just not that compelling of a film — the fact that it aspires to be is perhaps its second biggest failure. I’m sure any commercial review will provide a discussion whether this film is actually a riposte to the “toxic masculinity” that dominates this genre. But I don’t think either of us found this interesting enough to step foot into that debate over this film.
It wasn’t a complete loss, either, and probably at least worth a footnote here on the Report.
The bottom line is that if you are looking for a cool spot to have a laugh or two, I’d say this one eclipses the $5 bar for the action-violence-comedy genre crowd. But if you are looking for high-quality comedy, drama or action movie, you might poke your head into one of the other theaters in the cineplex. Or just stay home and watch Iko dominate Mile 22.