Buddy comedies, like Stuber, are Hollywood’s most dependable export.
As a script supervisor, your job is to make sure all shots are consistent between takes. With that in mind, can you name a genre that has stayed as consistent in quality, content, and appeal as the buddy comedy? A genre that has stood the test of time and sustained itself without reinventing the wheel in order to thrive?
It’s harder than you think.
The horror genre, for example, needs to move past cheap jump scares and balance fear with multi-layered storytelling to stay relevant (think of movies like Get Out or Hereditary). The ones that don’t are seen as seasonal darlings, not worthy of any extended pop-culture conversations.
It’s why Patrick Wilson will make a big splash on the promo circuit for a blockbuster like Aquaman but is relatively quiet for the release of Annabelle Comes Home. Even though Annabelle is a part of a billion dollar franchise, it’s still shackled by its genre for not branching out enough.
Romantic comedies need to speak the language of love and appeal to diverse demographics by starring unconventional pairings (think Crazy Rich Asians, Always Be My Maybe, or Trainwreck). If not, you get How To Be Single, a movie so forgettable, I had to Google it’s name even though I saw it in theatres.
The superhero genre needs to strip away the spectacle of its source material and work in a grittier environment to be memorable (think the Nolan Batman trilogy). Obviously, loud superhero movies are very popular, but if you were to ask someone which film broke new ground for the genre, Doctor Strange or Logan, the answer would be ‘the one with the claws’.
You get the point.
While other genres need to constantly innovate to capture audience mindshare, buddy comedies breeze on by. The genre follows the same structure year after year, without skipping a beat. Hell, the plots are so consistent with one another, you could argue that every movie is a remake.
I found a list of ‘The 20 Best Buddy/Action Comedy Movies’ on IMDB. Here’s a taste of how comparable they are.
48 Hrs. (1982): A hard-nosed cop reluctantly teams up with a wise-cracking criminal...
Lethal Weapon (1987): Two newly paired cops who are complete opposites must put aside their differences…
Shanghai Noon (2000): ...After teaming up with a train robber, the unlikely duo takes on a Chinese traitor and his corrupt boss.
The Heat (2013): An uptight FBI Special Agent is paired with a foul-mouthed Boston cop...
And now, Stuber (2019): A mild-mannered Uber driver named Stu picks up a grizzled detective who is hot on the trail of a sadistic, bloodthirsty terrorist...
Midnight Run, Due Date, 21 Jump Street...the list goes on and on.
The movies I listed span almost 40 years yet they’re cut from the same cloth.
And I love it.
That’s why I’m calling buddy comedies Hollywood’s most dependable export. They are the untouchables in an ever-changing industry. No matter what our current situation, buddy comedies are there to bring us back to safe territory. Yes, they are practically rehashes, but we accept it. We appreciate it. Audiences will flock to a buddy comedy even if the reviews are generally average. Call it familiarity, comfort, or just a reason to zone out and laugh — buddy comedies have mass appeal. Change my mind.
When it comes to Stuber, I’m sure you would agree, it has the same makeup of any great buddy comedy. An unlikely duo are paired together through circumstance, which leads to bickering, fighting, zany situations, and an understanding of each other’s differences which ultimately helps save the day...with plenty of laughs along the way.
While Stuber isn’t destined for critical acclaim like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, it’s perfectly enjoyable. I expect Stuber to receive an average score on Rotten Tomatoes and have a respectable box office run. Just as the buddy comedy gods intended.
Until next time,