Premise: An innocent Uber driver’s night is turned upside-down when a crotchety old cop ropes him into a plan to get revenge on the criminal who killed his ex-partner.
About: This script sold for mid six-figures a couple of weeks ago and appears to have been a group effort. The writer, Tripper Clancy, conceived of the idea with his manager, Jake Wagner, and then had help writing the script from Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, the “Horrible Bosses” writers who are writing the next Spider-Man movie.
Writer: Tripper Clancy
Details: 109 pages
The drive to get an Uber movie made is going to be an interesting one because in addition to Stuber, another Uber project was sold, that one a pitch. The bad news for Stuber is that that project has Will Ferrell in the lead role, and usually if you’re in a competing project with Will Ferrell, it’s game over. Unless, of course, you have a portly 35 year old female main character as your lead and Melissa McCarthy’s home phone number.
But Stuber’s lead is a young black man, making me wonder if this is a Kevin Hart project in the making. Of course, wasn’t Kevin Hart just in Ride Along 2, which, in many ways, is a similar premise? One would say yes, but then one would remember that Kevin Hart will be in just about any movie as long as you can write an 8 figure check. So who knows.
Stuber starts out with 50-something hard-nosed detective Vic Manning losing his partner while trying to catch the pre-eminent drug dealer in Los Angeles, the Columbian kingpin, Carolina Santos.
Cut to a year later, all 365 days of which Vic has used to hunt down Santos. But the bizatch is nowhere to be found. So isn’t it lucky that Santos reappears on the day that Vic just got Lazik surgery on his eyes and can barely see.
Enter Stu. Stu is just your average dude, trying to make an extra buck as an Uber driver so he can pay for that 1.7 karat ring for his beautiful girlfriend and make their union official. Doesn’t matter that she makes him check in with him every 30 minutes and also uses “Find my Phone” to make sure he is where he says he is at all times. Oh no, those are totally healthy signs in a partner.
Vic hops into Stu’s Uber just as Stu was about to call it a night. As you’re likely realizing, Vic needs Stuber as his eyes and wheels since he can’t see or drive himself. Stu is so not down with this, but the Most Interesting Man in the World clone tells him to grow some balls and drive him to where he needs to go, despite not understanding that Uber doesn’t work like that.
The two go to crack dens and strip clubs and, pretty soon, Stu is doing things like holding criminals at gunpoint, all of which is NOT in the Uber handbook. As you’d expect, Vic teaches Stu a little bit about being a man and Stu teaches Vic a little bit about being a human being, and in the end, despite their differences, they find common ground, as well as Santos herself.
So when you come up with an idea like this, your first job is to write down all the things that you can convey from a comedy standpoint that are specific to this idea. Those are the things that are going to separate your script from all the other scripts out there. Because if your jokes are going to cover things that could’ve been done in a movie about a cab ride or a ride along, your script isn’t going to stand out.
Stuber starts off that way. There are some funny exchanges between Stu and Vic about how Uber works. Stu explains that you can’t go to multiple destinations. Unless, of course, you use the “pool” feature. So Vic says he’s using that then, but Stu says, no, that’s something you have to use the app to control, and Vic doesn’t even have the app. And a lot of that banter is funny.
But once we’re out on our mission, Uber-specific-language goes out the window. This is basically a comedic Collateral or Ride Along. And while Collateral is ten years old, Ride Along 2 just came out this year. So you have to wonder how this comedy is going to differentiate itself.
With that said, I understand why they developed the idea like they did. By bringing a fare into the mix with a high-stakes goal (find a major drug dealer), your script is always going to be moving, will always have urgency, and will always have high stakes. These are the things that make both movies and spec scripts go, so they’re a smart move plot-wise.
I suppose you could just chronicle a wild and crazy Uber night, where fare after fare takes you to weird places with strange things happening, and find a lot of funny shit through that, but what would the goal be? Where are the stakes?
I think more could have been done with the team-up in Stuber, though. Again, when you’re looking for comedy inside your idea, you always go back to what’s unique about your idea. What’s unique about Uber drivers? Well, a lot of them are millennials with beards and an unhealthy love for Bernie Sanders. You’d then ask, “Who’s the worst person for that kind of driver to be stuck with?” And you’d have somebody close to Clint Eastwood, which Vic essentially is.
But while we do get some of that ideology clash, most of the humor inside the car is geared towards either Vic telling Stu to grow a pair or Stu’s relationship with his clingy girlfriend. And while the girlfriend stuff was funny, I kept asking, couldn’t these jokes be used anywhere? You can put clingy girlfriends in any comedy script.
So I much would’ve rather seen comedy that dealt with millennials vs. the tough guy generation. That’s where you’re going to differentiate yourself from the Ride Alongs of the world. Like where’s the scene where Stu Orders Grub Hub delivery on his phone despite them being parked 15 feet from a hot dog stand? Let’s show the ridiculousness of how the average millennial approaches basic life needs.
Stuber was okay, maybe not as creative as I would’ve liked it to be. But as I’ve come to realize, comedy is sooooo dependent on casting. So we’ll have to see who they get for this. If they come up with the right casting combo, this will be a big deal. If not, they can expect to be run over by Will Ferrell’s Uber.
[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: The large majority of your jokes should be specific to the comedy idea you’ve come up with. If you come up with a joke or a comedic scene that could work in any comedy movie, you should probably go back to the drawing board and look for that joke that’s more specific to your movie.
Scriptshadow Challenge: You’ve just been tasked to come up with an Uber comedy premise for a studio. What would it be? Can you beat out this idea? Upvote your favorite pitch!