Action flick machismo suffers an identity crisis in “Stuber,” a so-so buddy comedy frequently redeemed by the charisma of Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick”). He’s Stu, a mild-mannered Uber driver whose ride is commandeered by Vic (Dave Bautista), a cop on a mission — but who can’t drive, because he’s just had Lasik surgery.
There’s a likably cartoonish juxtaposition between Bautista, best known as the hulking Drax in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and Nanjiani, who traffics in witty neurosis and beta-male banter. Stuffed into a tiny front seat, they embody entirely different concepts of masculinity as Vic drags Stu into a tide of violence and gore (and a lot of accidentally walking into stuff). Stu, meanwhile, tries desperately to hang on to a five-star rating while remaining alive.
Tripper Clancy’s screenplay cheerfully slings insults at Vic (“Douche Lundgren”) and punctures some genre cliches: When Vic and Stu stumble into a strip club to catch a perp, they find greased-up men grinding on the poles. Stu has a heart-to-heart with one dancer sporting a Hillary Clinton tattoo, while the club’s female owner dresses down Vic for mansplaining. The nonsensically high cost of property damage also comes in for critique: When Vic flippantly tells Stu to put a wrecked car “on my tab,” Stu objects: “There is no tab! Uber is not a general store in the Old West!”