Stuber (15)***

Director: Michael Dowse

With: Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Natalie Morales

Runtime: 93 mins

STUBER? Really? Let’s face it, not the greatest movie title of the year, and the fact that one of the trailers for this throwaway action comedy needs to hammer home why it’s called that suggests its makers aren’t exactly delighted with the title either.

You see, Stu (Nanjiani) is a mild-mannered Uber driver (Stu-Uber, get it?) just hoping for that five-star rating. Meanwhile, Vic (Bautista) is a veteran tough guy cop who lost his partner on a botched mission.

Working on a tip-off but unable to drive due to recent eye surgery, he press gangs Stu into driving him around LA on the trail of the killer, with Stu’s reluctance to get involved in the capers and Vic’s lack of understanding of how Uber works propelling the lightweight plot.

Former wrestler Bautista has already proven himself a more than capable comedic presence as Drax, deadpan alien of the Guardians of the Galaxy universe. Similarly, Nanjiani (second cousin of Scots broadcaster Shereen) made a sizeable splash a couple of years ago writing and starring in the splendid The Big Sick, nabbing himself an Oscar nomination into the bargain.

As such, most of what works about Stuber is down to their byplay and comedy chops, even though the mismatched buddy formula is a well-worn one. Physical jokes that don’t draw attention to themselves are a rare commodity in Hollywood comedies, so be thankful for that here, and the easy combination of Bautista’s brashness with Nanjiani’s laid-back style means we’re not being bombarded with performances that mug for the camera.

There are times when an overly chatty Stu sometimes threatens to become irritating and the surprisingly violent chases and fights do tend to lapse into the chaotic, while American cinema still has not found a decent outlet for Indonesian martial arts superstar Iko Uwais, who makes almost no impression here as the baddie.

But at least it’s a film that knows it exists in the late Noughties, addressing the nature of masculinity and always fully aware when its male characters are being terrible, while also finding time to deal with them on a human level.

Not five stars, then, but Stuber will do just fine if it’s the only option in the area.