Review: THE HUSTLE Is A Funny But Paint-By-Numbers Remake

FIRST IMPRESSION

The Hustle works if only because the chemistry between the two lead stars is so good. Otherwise, it probably would have been rather bland.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

The Hustle is a new comedy film starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson. A gender-swapped remake of the 1988 movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (itself a remake), the film follows two con artists with wildly different demeanors and modi operandi as they compete to see who is better at taking advantage of the type of men who so often exploited them.

The story of the movie does follow the beats of the other two films very closely, so if you have seen either of them, you will surely find The Hustle to be extremely predictable and unsurprising. There are some modernizations, but not enough to make a significant difference. That being said, the movie is very entertaining nonetheless and may prove to be unpredictable to younger audiences who are drawn to the remake without any knowledge of prior versions.

Additionally, the story of the film is rather chaotic. Some of this may be because of the fact that it is a remake and the other two movies were pretty messy too, but a part of the issue is that this film has a shorter runtime. The Hustle is at least fifteen minutes shorter than Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and had those extra fifteen minutes been added to the middle section of the movie, it would have felt significantly less rushed.

The character development in the film was somewhat lackluster too. There are some compelling character-driven moments, but these are few and far between. An unavoidable issue with the movie is the fact that the characters are con artists, and as such, it is hard to connect with them. The film does make it obvious when they are trying to be sincere, but the characters play with other characters’ emotions so much that this is often ineffective.

the hustle airport
Rebel Wilson stars as Penny Rust and Anne Hathaway as Josephine Chesterfield in THE HUSTLE, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film.Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures. © 2019 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The main reason to see the movie is its comedy. If you enjoy goofy slapstick comedy, this film will likely be enjoyable. Although it isn’t consistently laugh-out-loud funny, there are more than a few moments that will give you a good chuckle and it is mostly enjoyable throughout. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of a comedy movie whose best and funniest moments are revealed in the trailer, but these parts are still funny in context.

The best part of the film is almost certainly the acting. Hathaway is a bit over-the-top and Wilson is playing her usual schtick, but their comedic chemistry together is absolutely phenomenal. They don’t quite match the talent of Caine and Martin who played the roles before, but they are fun to watch. It is nice to see Hathaway doing more fun and campy roles after her turn in last year’s Ocean’s 8. Wilson is fun to watch if you like watching her in other movies.

On a technical level, the film is mostly fine. The movie doesn’t quite take full advantage of its beautiful setting, although when it is featured, the French seaside is very beautiful. The cinematography is straightforward but solid for a comedy of this caliber. The soundtrack is good too, with the fun and bouncy songs chosen for the film doing a good job of building the campy tone.

Overall, The Hustle was a mostly enjoyable movie. It is far from great, but it is pretty much exactly what you would expect from a slapstick comedy starring the two leads, so it is worth your time to check out if you’re looking for alight and fun time at the movies.

The Hustle is now playing in theaters.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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