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STUBER: START MAKING SENSE

A good comedy has to have structure, just like a dramatic film, and should possess some degree of logic. It can be internal logic, once the movie has established its concept and boundary lines, but it still has to add up. Stuber flaunts its implausibility so many times I lost count. I also lost the ability to invest in its characters and situations.

The premise is outlandish, but not impossible to accept: a police detective (Dave Bautista) has to act fast in order to capture a heroin dealer who murdered his partner, but he’s just had eye surgery and can’t see, let alone drive. Desperate not to let the criminal slip through his fingers, he hires an Uber driver (Kumail Nanjiani) and leads him into a world of danger and violence the likes of which this mild-mannered fellow has never encountered before. In fact, all the driver really seems to care about is his customer rating with Uber.

This R-rated action comedy milks the odd-couple nature of its two protagonists, who offer each other unwanted domestic advice in the course of their rocky evening together. Bautista doesn’t want to hear a stranger’s tips about being a good parent any more than Nanjiani welcomes the cop’s words of wisdom about his relationship with a girlfriend.

Action fans will enjoy the work of Iko Uwais, the Indonesian martial artist who made such a vivid impression in The Raid, but he can’t make up for the silliness of the film surrounding him. Director Michael Dowse and writer Tripper Clancy keep things moving briskly but even if you check your brains at the door you may have trouble swallowing everything they’re dishing out. Not to be a spoiler (stop reading if you care) but I don’t find it funny when a man’s face is punctured by a rack of fishing tackles…especially when it’s part of a comedic fight between the movie’s two “heroes.”

Of course, comedy is a matter of taste and that can’t be dictated by anyone. Eager audiences at South by Southwest in Austin apparently loved the film. I saw it away from that party atmosphere and was turned off. To each his own.

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