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“Stuber” – A Brilliant Comedic Juxtaposition

Stuber” is a hilarious experience. It’s crafted like the slapstick silent film comedies of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy and the Three Stooges, The premise is brilliant comedic juxtaposition, two polar opposite characters thrown together in tight quarters for 90 minutes. It works because both characters are so charming beneath their vastly different veneers.

The end of the opening scene is a bit jarring, and though I’m always aware that comedy and tragedy are born of the same passions, I had to take an emotional step back. It does set up a vendetta for one of the leads. The effect is similar to watching the two worlds that collide in the Emmy-nominated TV series “Barry”, about a hitman trying to reinvent himself as an actor.

Most of the crew and cast do not have extensive resumes, and that may be one reason this film is so refreshing. This is the first major movie for Canadian Director Michael Dowse. Writer Tripper Clancy is also relatively new to the business. They have created a fast-moving story with a great rhythm, witty dialogue and well-timed action.

You may remember Kumail Nanjani from his 2017 autobiographical hit film The Big Sick. Here he plays the title role, Stu, who becomes known as Stuber. Nanjani has a natural ability to depict the frustrations of an ever-patient sensitive guy caught in a tornado of violent conflict. These events are perpetrated by his forced partnership with LAPD cop Vic Manning who is driven with a personal vengeance to catch a bad guy. Former wrestler Dave Bautista endows Manning with a larger than life personality and a huge heart underneath comically aggressive bluster. 

The rest of the cast brings to life colorful, unique characters. Mira Sorvino, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Mighty Aphrodite in 1996, plays Detective Angie McHenry. She had seemed to disappear from the screen after her Oscar win, and it is said that her rejection of Harvey Weinstein’s advances may have precipitated her downfall. She has another film, Beneath the Leaves, which was released this year, and more in production. It’s good to see her back.

Natalie Morales is poignant as Manning’s daughter. You may know her from Parks and Recreation, Girls and Abby’s. Betty Gilpin (Glow) is a picture of frustrated malaise as Suber’s would-be girlfriend. The standout performance in my estimation is from Steve Howey (Kevin Ball on “Shameless”). Howey had the audience rolling in the aisles as a Full Monty type dancer who offers “Stuber” some valuable philosophy from his life experience.

Within the mad hilarity of “Stuber” runs a deeper theme of male identity, dignity and integrity in our times as Super Macho Hero meets sensitive Metrosexual Nice Guy in this truly original farce.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which has been the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people.  She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com

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