Mike is a desperate Uber driver, hard up for money, who picks up a customer for an airport drop-off.
The customer is headed to Nashville to try his luck as a country singer and songwriter over the holidays, and the driver decides to break into his apartment while he’s gone. But the break-in doesn’t go as expected, as Mike encounters a significant wrinkle in his Christmas time break-in.
Director Cutter Hodierne and writer John Hibey — both of whom also produced — took a real-life story about a criminal Uber driver who broke into his rides’ homes as inspiration, creating an entertaining slice-of-life comedy with a kind of anti-hero at its center, a thief and burglar who takes advantage of his targets’ absence to break into their homes.
But the problem is Mike is easily distracted: by the dog in the apartment, the acoustic guitar that he takes some time to strum. It’s as if he’s not only breaking in to steal precious property and possessions, but to soak in a life that isn’t his own. This anti-hero, it turns out, has very human and relatable foibles like procrastination and distraction, which land him in one awkward situation after another.
The style of comedy on display here is grounded and realistic, and the creative elements all support this sense of being rooted in real human behavior, from the subtle yet effective performances to the almost documentary camerawork.
Though the situations portrayed in the film could be the set-up for farce or other heightened forms of comedy, the laughs don’t rely on outrageously played gags or other more traditionally slapstick elements. Instead, they’re the consequence of making one boneheaded decision after another, and finding yourself in an unbelievable situation as a result.
How Mike gets out of his dilemma is less a punchline and more a cleverly set-up payoff, but it satisfies because it remains true to the character and the tone of the film. Wry and amusing, “The Uburglar” often shows the care and attention of a character sketch, capturing the small reactions and observations of its main character. The fact that the main character is a burglar and criminal — and perhaps not a really good one — is where the very human comedy comes in. It may not be the kind of laugh that makes you forget the world’s problems, but remember that we often make our own, and can only laugh at the strange ways we try to get out of them.