There’s a sound you make when you blow wind through your lips as if you’re motorboating. I know, that sounds crass but where I’m getting at is, I wish I was able to confidently type that expression in this review to signify how I feel about “The Hustle”.
I’m sort of torn. I am always willing to give films a chance. I don’t believe any film starts a production to be a bad movie. A lot of things go into filmmaking and a lot of elements on paper sometimes, well maybe more often than not, don’t seem to gel the way a producer, or writer, or director may have initially intended.
“The Hustle is really testing this.
My worse reviewed film of the year so far is the absolutely terrible “Hellboy”. Please if you haven’t read that one, get to it; you’ll be better for it. Way better than actually watching that film. This was a project that went into production with the best of intentions and ended up being pretty bad. There really can’t be anyway someone read the script for “The Hustle” and thought this wasn’t a bad film from the jump. Maybe the goal was to be a Good Bad movie, like one of those spoof movies from the early 2000’s. Narratively those films are trash, but their job is to poke fun at the movie its spoofing. “The Hustle” is a bad film from start to finish and never attempts to be good and I think it knows it.
Penny Rust (Rebel Wilson) is a somehow charming Australian Swindler who is addicted to conning low life men out of money by dooping them in a variety of scams that prey on their, gullibility and stupidity and perviness. She takes a trip to Europe to some town I can’t remember the name of and crosses paths with Josephine Chesterfield (Anne Hathaway) an even more notorious, high class seductress who makes a fortune pulling off equally deplorable acts. Josephine recognizes however small time Penny seems, she could be a thorn in her side and attempts to get her out of her stomping grounds. When that plan back fires the only respectable thing to do is to propose a bet of feminine wilds in the pursuit of the affection of a young, dumb, and supposedly rich tech mogul. Hijinks ensue.
This plot is tired, backwards, and incoherent. The film is a gender swap remake from a Steve Martin, Michael Caine classic from the late 80’s. Understand a few things about the 80’s. Our collective tolerance for absurd and insensitive humor was much higher before than it is now. Think about the classics from that time that came out and could never get a green light now because of the subject matter and sensitivity; “Revenge of the Nerds”, “Animal House”, “Police Academy”. I don’t believe we were starving either to retell this story that for a lot of the targeted audience I bet would never know this is a remake to begin with. The push for female representation on screen is an important one, but at what cost?
I don’t want to get caught up about feminist agendas at work in this production, but it does seem if there are any it misses the mark. I’m far from a sexist but the film glorifies the very things it looks to combat. We have 2 characters whose reason for entering into a life of crime is because of the lack of respect they’re missing from their male counterparts.
At least Robin Hood stole from the rich but gave to the poor. These women steal from the rich by weaponizing their sex and don’t do anything to change the fortunes of other women around them.
To say the script is amateurish, is not true. To find out who actually wrote the script is a different story. The credited writers in billing are 3 of the original writers from the 1988 original. So that tells me this lazily slapped together production literally reused that same script and swapped out time specific references and genders and you can tell. This comedy doesn’t work now. Its below lowbrow as we’ve evolved as a viewing audience. The story and the direction are out of touch and its only because of the star power that the film is even a little watchable.
Hathaway surprisingly appears to have fun but I’m sure the pay check is all that’s getting her through this mess. Wilson on the other hand takes a step back and gets regulated to the ugly fat chick (again) who plays all the way to that shtick for a laugh and its really hurtful to continue to see her perpetuate that stereotype and how much in stunts her professionally. No that she won’t be monetarily successful, but audiences will have an increasingly hard time trying to see her in anything else if she keeps this up.
“The Hustle” takes several steps back narratively for the genre, on screen female leading representation and attempts to con the audience out of a few cheap laughs while doing it. The villain twist is seen coming a mile away and the script does nothing to offer any consolation for it. Like a bad joke this bad film gets the last laugh at hustling us out of $13+ and never tries hard enough to really care.
KOLBYTOLDME RATING- 4/10
Director: Chris Addison
Writer: Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning, Dale Launer, Jac Schaeffer
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp
Run Time: 93 mins