Arts & Entertainment

“Stuber,” A 21st Century Update to the Buddy Cop Genre

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Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

“I’m Stu. How do you do?” are the first six words Uber driver Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) says to his passenger Vic (Dave Bautista) in “Stuber,” in theaters July 12. The harmless introduction sets off a series of events that include involvement in an underground drug ring, James Bond-style car chases and plenty of jokes aimed at an older generation still struggling to understand ridesharing.

“Stuber” is the story of Stu, a young department store employee and ridesharing-service Uber driver with low self-esteem, no career direction and a hopeless crush on a woman who sees him only as a friend. When a nearly blind cop requests a ride, he drags Stu on a mission to catch an infamous drug-dealer-turned-murderer. Both men have to figure out a way to work together to accomplish their chief objectives — an arrest and a five star rating.

Director Michael Dowse releases his latest film with 20th Century Fox creating a  modern spin on the classic buddy cop story. Nanjiani and Bautista make a dynamic duo, complementing each other’s strengths and seamlessly blending action and comedy.

In an interview with the Phoenix, Nanjiani referred to the “night in the desert” motif that appears during scenes when the characters are most uncomfortable.

“I’ve never done an action movie like this and that aspect was definitely my night in the desert,” Nanjiani said. “But I had a great teacher, one of the great on-screen physical performers. I felt very lucky to be able to do it with Dave and watch how he does it.”

Despite the movie’s frequent advertisements for the ride-sharing app, the chemistry between the leading actors served as a linchpin to the storyline and entertainment. In the interview, both actors chuckled to themselves, even interrupting each other, in an attempt to explain their relationship on and off screen.

“[Nanjiani] called me up and what did you say? He said, ‘Hey, Dave, wanna go build some chemistry?” Bautista said.

In response, Nanjiani said he knew the duo’s on-screen chemistry wouldn’t be a problem from the beginning.

“One, you really can’t control it and two, I just had known enough about Dave that I knew I really liked him and I think that sort of goes a long way,” Nanjiani said.

Underneath the witty one liners and epic fight scenes, the movie comments on the changing perception of masculinity and gender roles in popular culture. Vic and the other characters criticize Stu for his sensitivity and lack of courage. Vic, on the other hand, lacks the capability to display emotion, leading to a frayed relationship with his daughter.

Both driver and passenger have to find a way to meet in the middle — to be both brave and emotionally aware — and to knock down the notion that men don’t cry.

“We’re in an era where we are rethinking masculinity and we are realizing that masculinity has been defined too narrowly,” said Nanjiani. “That has caused a lot of problems for men and for women and for the world in general. I think generally a lot of problems of the world could be boiled down to men who aren’t in touch with their own feelings.”

Bautista weighed in on the movie’s message, admitting he tends to wear his heart on his sleeve. Bautista said he attributes his ability to express his emotions to his mother, who raised him to stand up for himself and keep in touch with his softer side.

“I think these two characters are extreme cases of different personalities, and I think they are trying to meet somewhere in the middle,” Bautista said. “I just love that people will have that conversation, because this is a conversation, there’s not a simple answer to that. I mean, who knows what being a man is? I haven’t figured it out and I’m 50 years old.”

“Stuber,” rated R, is set to be released July 12.

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