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Stuber

Buddy comedies heavily rely on chemistry. Whether it’s two or more in the cast, how they interact is crucial in making the comedic situations work. If they don’t the film can quickly fall apart no matter how good a story. ‘Stuber’s script may not be original or totally engaging, but the leads’ chemistry ensures it remains watchable until the last reel.

Uber driver Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) is having a boring day driving around ungrateful clients. When LAPD detective Victor (Dave Bautista) suddenly commandeers Stu’s car, all hell breaks loose. Determined to catch a notorious drug baron, Victor also has to deal with dodgy eye-sight as well as an irate Uber driver. Stu’s day goes from bad to worse with guns and explosions following him and Victor in a day he’d rather forget.

‘Stuber’ doesn’t always work with profane humor wrecking a few of its set-ups. Generally it’s entertaining though with Nanjiani and Bautista displaying that all important chemistry in spades. It’s easy going along with their partnership as both actors inject plenty of pathos and charisma into their characters. ‘Stuber’ isn’t perfect but its slightly low-brow aims are softened by Michael Dowse’s astute direction.

The action set pieces give ‘Stuber’ much heft. These plus the stunts are the other stars of the film and don’t disappoint. The screenplay is wafer-thin with a ‘seen it all before’ mentality occasionally surfacing. But the leads’ ability to play to their strengths go a long way in not making ‘Stuber’ an unwatchable mess.

‘Stuber’ can’t be taken too seriously with the comedy and action mixed reasonably well. It won’t change the world anytime soon but it isn’t a piece of celluloid junk either. Sort of like cinematic fast-food where you feel slightly guilty in watching it but having fun anyway.

Rating out of : 6

Johnny English Strikes Again

Rowan Atkinson has successfully lived by the quote ‘if you’re onto a good thing, stick to it’. The actor known for his work on the ‘Blackadder’ and ‘Mr Bean’ TV series has revisited those characters multiple times. He’s also appeared as clumsy secret agent Johnny English twice before with ‘Johnny English Strikes Again’ offering him another ride on the comedic merry-go-round. A 21st Century version of the ‘Pink Panther’ series, Atkinson’s clueless agent returns for another lukewarm adventure.

When a cyber-attack reveals the identity of every British undercover agent, the government led by the Prime Minister (Emma Thompson) is in a quandary. Their only hopes are retired secret agent Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) and his partner-in-spying Angus (Ben Miller). Reluctantly asking for their aid to search for the hacker, the government keeps its fingers crossed English will get the job done. Whether he does it well is another matter with English’s miniscule intelligence an ongoing barrier in cracking the case.

‘Johnny English Strikes Again’ is an amiable farce in the Peter Sellers tradition. Under David Kerr’s strong direction the comedy effortlessly flows onto the next silly sequence. Thankfully this entry is mostly devoid of the toilet humour seen previously. This allows for more wit and effort in creating laughs. That doesn’t mean it’s the best comedy around but it provides a pleasant diversion from the world’s ills.

Atkinson is the star of the show and the script utilises his skills wisely. With his very expressive face, Atkinson’s fearlessness in diving into any comedic situation is evident. His scenes with the equally talented Miller are a highlight with Thompson a solid addition. Their comic timing is superb with the stunts and outlandish action adding to the fun. Unlike the ‘Pink Panther’ and ‘Austin Powers’ series, the laughs are consistent with the aim for a stronger script notable.

Unlike other recent comedies ‘Johnny English Strikes Again’ doesn’t delve into crudity or stereotypes for its humour. It’s a decent mirth maker without being amazing. The third time is the charm in this case although it shouldn’t surprise many if a fourth instalment surfaces knowing Atkinson’s enthusiasm for constantly returning to the well of his well-worn characters.

Rating out of 10: 6