The Hustle promises to reimagine the nature of high-stakes swindling. They achieve this by having a feminist retelling of 1964’s Bedtime Story.
The film has women (the well-cast Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson) be the fraudsters, exploiting, as Hathaway’s character puts it, men’s inability to imagine that a woman is cleverer than they are.
1. Quick review
The Hustle is director Chris Addison’s remake of the 1988 Michael Caine-Steve Martin comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. A couple of con artists con each other, then they realize they can con people out of even more money if they team up.
Along the way, they realize they can’t trust each other. They then devise a competition to see who can con an unsuspecting tech billionaire (Alex Sharp) out of $500,000. Whoever wins gets to stay in the French Riviera town of Beaumont-sur-Mer to swindle tourists and gamblers out of their millions.
The film is a rivals-in-crime feminist scam comedy set on the French Riviera. Anne Hathaway plays a drop-dead gorgeous British seductress-grifter who fleeces wealthy suckers. Rebel Wilson stars in the film as a disheveled philistine who is just as shrewd an operator.
2. Is it worth watching?
For a brief shining moment, this movie looks like that rarest of beasts- a film that’s both progressive and hilariously funny. That moment, however, quickly dissipates. The setups are flat, the jokes don’t land, and the actors somehow don’t seem to connect. How does this happen in a movie that stars Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson, two proven experts at the art of farce? Oscar-winner Hathaway stole the show from her A-list co-stars in Ocean’s 8. Wilson, best known as Fat Amy in the Pitch Perfect franchise, is an Aussie slapstick treasure.
The Hustle flutters and sputters, and all too quickly goes splat. It reportedly spent two years awaiting a release. This fem-centric remake of both the films proves to be an arduous experience to watch. Gender-flipping the cast only helped this version avoid the misogynistic tilt of Scoundrels, and little else.
No one would call either of those films a classic, but they had their moments. This version has only desperation. Any comedian will tell you the golden rule of comedy: don’t let them see you sweat.
Hathaway plays Josephine Chesterfield, a British woman with an outrageously phony accent. She runs a classy scam act on the French Riviera. Hathaway bilks men out of their money in ways that seem more complicated than necessary
perhaps to pad a plot that barely wheezes to a finish at 93 minutes. Rebel Wilson takes the role of Penny Rust, a low-rent version of Josephine, who decides to horn in on her rival’s territory. The two team up to clean out a young, Internet tycoon, played by Alex Sharp.
The script is credited to Jac Schaeffer as well as Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning, and Dale Launer, who wrote the original material. Unlike an Ocean’s movie, for example, the steadily building thrill of watching an audacious plan come together piece by piece is not the point.
The Hustle is more scattershot. We are dropped into the middle of a scam as the ladies are approaching their latest target with a ridiculous costume, accent, or backstory they’ve cooked up off-screen.
II. Music and Visuals
The music director of this film is Anne Dudley, an English composer, and pop musician. The soundtrack of the film includes Lips Are Movin by Meghan Trainor, Je Veux Te Voir by Yelle, Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies by the Plastecines, Intrada From Bruck An Der Mur by Vienna Art of Trumpet and Money by Ivy Leavan. The soundtrack is available to stream on Spotify, Google Play music and YouTube.
Visually, The Hustlers is a feast for the eyes. Because of its exotic location and a large budget, the film has many a montage of beautiful locales, expensive clothes, and designer jewelry. Private jets, large hot tubs, and extortionate cars also fill the film.
3. Final thoughts
The Hustle starts off as a vengeful comic fantasy of women using tricks and illusions to exploit the lusty pliability of men. In the movies, the vast majority of con artists have been men (though there are a handful of great female con artists, like Annette Bening in The Grifters).
The Hustle is savvy enough to suggest that women have to be 10 times the con artists that men are just to get around all the crap that men lay on them in their everyday lives. For a while, the prospect of a con-woman movie driven by the motor of sexual politics gives The Hustle a lift.
This gender-flipped remake starts with a premise that’s positively inspired.
One that says women make better con artists because men are reluctant to believe that women could be smarter than them. This makes the entire film degenerate into two tired clichés: women competing with one another, and endless fat jokes that sour the whole experience.
The HustleAir Date: May 17, 2019Status: FInishedStudio: MGM
Airdate: May 17, 2019
Available on: Hulu
Status: FinishedOriginally Written By Epic Dope