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Movie Review

Stu is a meek and mild-mannered Uber driver trying to save up money to open a spin gym with Becca, the woman of his dreams. Vic is a hard-and-grizzled police officer for the LAPD who's spent years tracking down a drug-dealing kingpin who killed his last partner on the force.

But when Vic finally gets a lead on that gangster, a guy named Oka Teijo, he's got problem: Vic's essentially blind from having Lasik eye surgery earlier that day.

So, with daughter Nicole's help, Vic gets an Uber. Stu is his highly motivated driver, a guy who'll do almost anything to earn a coveted five-star review. And boy is he going to have to do some unexpected—and violent—things once Vic climbs into his backseat.

In this “buddy cop” comedy, Vic will have to learn how to ask for help if he wants to catch the perp. And Stu will have to endure the rideshare of his life in order to get that five-star rating.

Positive Elements

Despite the obnoxious behaviors of his riders, Stu is almost painfully polite to everyone he drives for. He even says, “It was a five-star ride for me; I hope it was a five-star ride for you.” Throughout the film, he often calls out other characters for being abusive, objectifying women and mocking other races.

Vic, for his part, is a loyal and determined police officer. In the opening scene, we see him mentoring his young partner, a woman named Sarah Morris, and encouraging her to not be intimidated by the drug dealers they think they're about to arrest. He also displays a never-give-up attitude when it comes to catching the man responsible for her tragic death. On top of that, he's determined to be a better father to his young adult daughter, Nicole, whom he's repeatedly failed in the past.

Throughout the movie, these two men gradually learn how to help each other. They're about as different as they can be—as is their idea of what it means to be a man. But each has important lessons to teach the other: Vic teaches Stu how to be brave and speak up for himself, while Stu helps Vic embrace his feelings and to realize that it’s not weak to ask for help.

Spiritual Content

We hear a crude reference about someone's Catholic faith and a particular sex act. In a closing Christmas scene, we hear these lyrics from "The First Noel": “Born is the King of Israel."

Sexual Content

Stu is madly in love—and mostly stuck in the "friend zone"—with Becca. I say "mostly," because they did have sex once after she broke up with an old boyfriend years ago.

Stu would do anything for her. And when she breaks up with yet another guy (because she found nude pics of girls "barely out of high school"), she gets drunk and tells Stu they should hook up again. For much of the film, Stu's desperately trying to get to Becca to take her up on that offer.

An extended scene takes place in a male strip club where half-clothed men are seen dancing. Both on the dance floor and in the dressing room, we see men's oiled physiques as they wear next to nothing. In fact, a naked man walks past Stu (in full view of the camera). Stu's on a video chat with Becca, who makes a crude reference about the man's anatomy. In the same scene, a female character objectifies a male dancer, and sex is discussed in detail. A male dancer also struggles with his body image, which is treated as a joke.

We hear multiple vulgar references to sex, including lines about anal sex and masturbation. A woman's name is very similar to a crude synonym for part of a woman's anatomy. Someone is asked if he's a "gigolo." Women are lewdly objectified. We hear slang references to both the male and female anatomies.

Several female characters wear midriff- and cleavage-baring tops. A couple exchanges a kiss.

Violent Content

In typical action-movie fashion, multiple scenes involve exchanges of gunfire and intense, MMA-style fighting. Various characters get shot and/or pummeled brutally. Many are killed. Some are wounded but survive.

Early on, Vic's partner gets shot in the torso, and he holds her as she bleeds out. Elsewhere, guns are held directly to heads multiple times. Several point-blank head shots yield particularly nasty results. Dead bodies are frequently seen with pools of blood surrounding them. And because this is also a comedy, these graphic depictions are often treated humorously, such as when Stu accidentally shoots a drug dealer and then begins screaming hysterically. Vic then tortures the man for information by pushing his finger into the bullet wound on the man's leg.

When they are being pursued in their car, Vic shoots several bad guys before Stu throws a propane tank out of the window, telling Vic to shoot it. The propane tank goes straight through the windshield of the car he is aiming at and smashes the driver’s skull. Vic then shoots it and it blows up, killing everyone inside.

While gathering supplies at the sporting goods store where Stu works, he and Vic get into a comedically intense fight and make use of the surrounding sports equipment to beat each other up. In a particularly gruesome shot, Stu hits Vic in the face with a fish hook display, which Vic then pulls out, hook by hook.

A pedestrian is deliberately rammed by a car. A man is stabbed in the leg. A car explodes. Someone falls from a balcony. A woman accidentally slams her head against the window of Stu’s car when he jerks the wheel suddenly. Vic gets hot sauce in his eyes just as he's starting to see clearly again. Vic describes how a pimp died in a swimming pool.

Crude or Profane Language

We hear the f-word more than 50 times and the s-word almost that many. “A--” is used a dozen times, “a--hole” another 10, and “h---” nine. “B--ch,” “d--mit,” and “b--tard” are all used a handful of times as well. As mentioned above, we hear a variety of anatomical crudities.

God's name is misused about 20 times, with at least six paired with "d--mit. Jesus’s name is misused another half-dozen times.

We see a crude hand gesture.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Teijo is a drug dealer, and Vic is trying to figure out when and where the “drop” is happening throughout the movie. Vic repeatedly mentions how Teijo sells heroin to kids.

In the opening scene, a man is seen in the background of Teijo’s penthouse wearing a full bodysuit and mask—most likely because he is cooking drugs. In another scene, Vic enters the house of Cortez, another drug dealer, and Cortez’s cronies hide drugs and drug paraphernalia. One of these men gives drugs to a dog to swallow, which the dog later throws up. Vic then forces that man to swallow the same drugs in retribution.

Becca drinks wine heavily and talks about how the alcohol is helping her deal with her breakup; her slurred speech indicates her drunkenness. And it's highly unlikely that she would have offered to have sex with Stu apart from being drunk and heartbroken.

Stu drinks two glasses of champagne in single gulps each at an art show. Vic’s dad was likely an abusive alcoholic based on a story he tells from his childhood.

Other Negative Elements

Vic frequently mocks Stu for his hysterical reactions to the violence around him, implying that Stu isn’t a real man. Vic breaks the law several times and uses his position as a police officer to justify his illegal actions (even when another character calls it “police brutality”).

Stu manipulates a criminal for information by threatening to post embarrassing fake tweets to the criminal’s Twitter account. Racial and sexist jokes are common throughout. Stu's supervisor at a sporting goods store mockingly calls him "Stuber,” despite Stu’s requests to stop. Stu receives several insulting reviews from his Uber riders.

Stu vomits after seeing several dead bodies.

Conclusion

Buddy-cop movies seek to blend equal parts comedy and action. This time around, the filmmakers obviously hoped that its "odd couple" stars Kumail Nanjiani (Stu) and Dave Bautista (Vic) could embody the comic chemistry that can carry a film like this.

But many subtle jokes here get overshadowed by the story's fast-paced fight scenes, while stand-up comedian Nanjiani's deadpan gags often fall flat too. Many of the movie's attempts at humor are predicated on Vic’s temporary blindness as well, and that gets old fast, too.

More problematic than this buddy cop movie's comedic failures are its intense violence and frequent profanities. Bullet-burst heads are played for dark laughs; gore and profanity flow freely, usually in search of a guffaw. The filmmakers also throw in a graphic shot of a naked male stripper—another desperate attempt at squeezing a chuckle from audience.

At one point, Stu tells Vic, “You’re built for justice. I’m built for brunch.” Perhaps the same could be said for this flick's failed attempts to blend action and comedy. The end result is an R-rated mess of a movie that's nowhere near Stu's coveted five-star rating.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Kumail Nanjiani as Stu; Dave Bautista as Victor "Vic" Manning; Karen Gillan as Sarah Morris; Betty Gilpin as Becca; Natalie Morales as Nicole Manning; Mira Sorvino as Captain McHenry; Iko Uwais as Oka Teijo; Jimmy Tatro as Richie; Steve Howey as Felix; Rene Moran as Amo Cortez; Scott Lawrence as Doctor Branch

Director

Michael Dowse ( )

Distributor

20th Century Fox

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

July 12, 2019

On Video

October 15, 2019

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Emily Baker

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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