'The Hustle' (2019) An Irritated Movie Review
I Hate Modern Comedy
Alright, that’s not entirely true that I necessarily hate the stylings of all modern day comedies. However, there is a trend going on with many modern comedies that I cannot stand. That trend is basically having the majority of the film contain a long string of sketches that are overly compacted with the actors adlibbing their lines with one another rather than sticking to a script or editing out any unnecessary fat that pertains absolutely nothing to the plot. Scene after scene amounts to nothing more than the actors making lines up on the fly with their dialog that has zero affect towards anything that occurs later on while usually trying to cash-in on present day sensibilities and pop culture references. Any semblance of narrative structure, pacing, character development, natural editing, etc. is thrown right out the God damn window because The Hustle would prefer to focus on Rebel Wilson making her millionth fat joke while Anne Hathaway acts like a pretentious snob in retort to everything. I hate this movie very much. This is me trying my best to be nice… but I hope that this movie gets cancer and chokes on its disingenuous, false pretenses of woman empowerment that it attempts to manipulate the female demographic for its own personal gain.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
To be perfectly honest, I have not seen the original film that The Hustle is based on in maybe twenty years. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was a film I remember enjoying as a child, but I truly can’t remember much about it anymore. Whether this remake is better or worse, I do have my hunch on the matter, but I cannot properly attest to how they compare; so I will have to discuss The Hustle entirely on its own merits… what few there are.
According to IMDb, the plot synopsis reads: Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson star as female scam artists, one low rent and the other high class, who team up to take down the men who have wronged them.
That is not what this movie is about. At no point is this duo attempting to seek revenge against jerks that have wronged them or hurt them in any way. In fact, most of the movie is about them practically at each other’s throats in a petty battle of proving who is the better con artist. The actual plot doesn’t even kickstart until nearly forty-five minutes into the runtime when the movie introduces the wager that Hathaway and Wilson partake in involving the both of them conning a young billionaire out of $500,000. Whoever claims the money first is the victor.
Side Note about the Trailer Above: There is so much context taken out of the trailer that it is ridiculous. They're not even giving an accurate depiction of what the movie is even about. They aren't even working together for the majority of the movie like this trailer tries lying about. Also, there's something in the trailer that doesn't even happen in the actual movie. Anne Hathaway shooting a gun. That is nowhere to be seen in the actual film.
The First Half
The movie literally takes half of its own running time before finally revealing what the plot even is. Before the wager is made between Hathaway’s and Wilson’s characters, the picture is filled with directionless scenes of Hathaway and Wilson playing a game of “who’s the bigger @sshole”. Random plot threads that go absolutely nowhere and are so far from being funny that the humor feels downright desperate in trying to muster up a laugh. At no point did I chuckle, I couldn’t even smirk at this movie’s sense of humor. For the first forty-five minutes straight the movie is relying entirely on the comedic antics between Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway. Too bad there wasn’t anything funny happening between them.
Every scene feels too long. As though the editor was tied up against his will because the director thought that all of the unfunny adlibbing was “too hilarious” to cut from the film, so everything was left in. Creating a clunky and incoherent plot thread of sheer nothingness. Seriously, the first half feels entirely comprised of deleted scenes and elongated intros that were included into the final product for no reason. If what these characters were doing or saying was actually funny or clever or interesting in any way, then I could easily see myself forgiving the messy structure. There wasn’t anything that engaged me though, not in the way of comedy or character anyhow. Just misery and boredom.
Story Structure Breakdown
Here is my breakdown of The Hustle, beat by beat:
- Wacky introduction of Rebel Wilson catfishing a douchebag dude in a bar. (Somewhere in America)
- This scene goes nowhere, doesn’t impact anything later on, nor is it ever brought up again. Worst of all, it resulted in no laughs.
- Wacky introduction of Anne Hathaway hustling a gambler in a casino to trick him in giving her a priceless bracelet. (Somewhere in France)
- Another unfunny scene that actually does end up impacting the narrative later on, only in the most contrived of writing though.
- Somehow Wilson and Hathaway board a train together. Not completely sure as to how Wilson ended up in France, but it results in them meeting for the first time. Although not before including another overlong scam scene that Wilson performs on another unsuspecting victim.
- After they part ways, it turns out that Rebel Wilson coincidentally and unintentionally stole a mark that Hathaway was intending to con next.
- Granted, this is actually an important plot point to start their rivalry. But the con and the mark are never brought up again for the remainder of the movie.
- In retort to Wilson’s tomfoolery, Hathaway hatches a scheme to con Wilson in fleeing the country.
- Wilson fleeing the country winds up being totally pointless since it turns out that of all places, the priceless bracelet mark that Hathaway conned eariler so happens to board the exact same plane as Rebel Wilson and informs her that Hathaway is in fact a con artist as well.
- Wilson and the informant end up banging in the bathroom stall after several wasted minutes of adlibbing. The informant is never brought up again.
- Somehow Rebel Wilson discovers where Anne Hathaway lives, resulting in Hathaway agreeing to take Wilson under her wing in a mentor/student relationship.
- Not convinced in the slightest that Hathaway would put up with another second of Wilson’s antics, she literally gains next to nothing from this relationship that she couldn’t have gotten on her own or with the help of someone else.
- The next ten to fifteen minutes is a string of goofy training montages and scams performed by the duo.
- Nothing that happens in these fifteen minutes affects the plot at all and might as well have been cut since when the two leads part ways again, it’s as if none of what they did together even happened or mattered.
- Halfway through, finally the plot is introduced when the con artists are bickering amongst themselves, they come across a seemingly clumsy and innocent young man who happens to be a billionaire. The two wager on whoever can garner half a million first from the young man’s finances is the winner. Loser must leave the town for good.
- The remaining half is totally comprised of Rebel Wilson pretending to be blind, making more fat jokes, and tripping over many things. Anne Hathaway pretends to be an eccentric German doctor that is trying to help Wilson “see again”.
- Together they make obnoxious asses of themselves.
- Wilson and rich dude supposedly start to fall for one another. Resulting in Wilson wishing to call off the bet.
- Their romantic chemistry is extremely stale. This ends up actually resulting in a new wager of seducing the rich boy rather than stealing his money.
- Turns out that the rich boy was conning the two of them all along and swindled them both out of $500,000 each.
- Honestly, super predictable as to where that was going.
- Don’t fret though, it turns out that there’s still an additional ten minutes left where Hathaway and Wilson establish their friendship. Then the rich boy scammer comes back and all is forgiven between the three of them as they all agree to team up in order to scam the world.
- The F*cking End.
What Every Good Screenplay Needs…
Every good screenplay, in my opinion, needs flow. There needs to be a basic snowball effect that helps the story move forward naturally; one scene results in the next plot point, affecting the next character motivation which develops the next plot thread and so on. That isn’t the case here. The Hustle is a random string of events and sketches that are barely stitched together in an incoherent plot thread which does not bother developing anything in the way of story or character. Every scene is “wouldn’t it be funny if Rebel Wilson acted like a slob and Anne Hathaway acted like a snob”. That’s all the dimensionality to this script. If it were funny that would be one thing, but it’s not. Not even remotely. Resulting in a disjointed, crumpled up, annoying journey through the pits of hell.
The Rebel and the Anne
Rebel Wilson tends to either be hit or miss with me. There are films that I absolutely love her in, for instance, earlier this year I thought that Wilson was fantastic in Isn’t It Romantic. Then there are movies I can’t stand her in. Personally, this was one of them. Not that I found her acting to be bad by any means; what got to me was the constant improvisational dialog of really easy fat jokes, sex jokes, and blind person jokes is what ticked me off. No, not because they were “insensitive”. Because none of them were funny. I’m not sure how much blame should rest on her shoulders though for the unfunny lines since the writer and director are the ones responsible for giving their actors material to work with, but there wasn’t anything to work with in this script. It was as though the filmmakers handed their actors a blank page and said, “Good luck”. That isn’t a professional direction to provide someone’s cast members, these are actors that need something to work with or else we get total bupkis in the end.
- 'Isn't It Romantic' (2019) Movie Review
Natalie wakes up inside of a world straight out of a romantic comedy with everyone in her life playing the stereotypical supporting cast as she must find love in order to escape back into her own reality.
You want an completely hysterical Anne Hathaway film from this year? Watch Serenity! No, it’s in no way intended to be a comedy in any way shape or form, but it is a hell of a lot funnier that The Hustle. Serenity was vastly more unpredictable and humorous than anything that The Hustle has to offer. In all seriousness though, usually I like Anne Hathaway. Even in a bad movie, Hathaway seems to be able to supply a colorful performance to keep me somewhat awake at least. I can tell that she is certainly trying to give this movie some sort of life, but this movie gave her nothing to work with. It gave no one in this cast a shred of material to bounce off of. Lying dead on the floor with no hope of resuscitation. This movie just sucks.
- 'Serenity' (2019) Movie Review
Baker Dill is a simple man living on a tropical island running a small fishing business. One day he is given a deadly proposition to kill a woman's husband for 10 million dollars. Does he choose to accept her offer or will he decline so he may contin
There is no chemistry between these two leads or anyone for that matter. None. Whatsoever. Neither comedically or in terms of any friendship being formed. They simply aren’t funny together and I don’t find it the least bit believable that these two would come out from the conclusion of everything that they had been through to somehow form a bond with each other. Hathaway is never shown to be charmed by Wilson’s personality or her ludicrous schtick and literally has nothing to gain from befriending her. Wilson also doesn’t grow to care for Hathaway’s character for that matter. Granted, it makes sense to me why Wilson would want to hold ties with Hathaway seeing how successful she is at con artistry. I still don’t buy that Hathaway would continue to put up with Wilson though or the man that conned her out of half a million dollars. Yet the ending portrays the two women as forming a very forced sisterhood between themselves while accepting the male into their trio. Again, I didn’t find it believable or charming. It was lazy.
I’m not sure why this movie’s marketing was so persistent on making this film out to be some sort of female empowerment picture when it seems to not give a sh*t at all for the cause. The movie is literally revolving around a squabble between two women that hate each other. Doesn’t help matters that their chemistry is non-existent. Hell, there’s a couple of scenes where Rebel Wilson’s character makes it very clear that she doesn’t mind conning women either for her own benefit. So where exactly am I supposed to see the female empowerment here? I hope that no one misinterprets what I am saying here, I’m not saying that writing in film that empowers women is bad. That’s not what I mean, I’m all for strong female characters and some of my favorite films from the last few years contain extremely strong leading women. This movie though felt like a step backwards and didn’t care to create any strong characters at all, whether they be male or female. I’m more so calling it out because a lot of the advertisements that I had come across made it abundantly apparent that they were targeting a female demographic with alluding to the film handing women power over men. Which can be fine, but this movie failed at it horrendously.
When your posters read “They’re giving dirty rotten men a run for their money” and your official plot synopsis on IMDb is that these are women “teaming up to take down men who have wronged them” then show zero signs of either one of those statements being anywhere present in the actual film, that is pretty scummy manipulation in my eyes. I mean, during the actual plot these two women are targeting a young man that they are certain is simply naïve and only because he’s rich, not because he’s “dirty” or “rotten”. That is basically the utter opposite of what the marketing is trying to sell! Really?! Yes, I know that the “plot twist” is that he was actually dirty and rotten, the female duo didn’t know that at the time though nor did they care.
The comedy is a lot of fat jokes, prat falls, Hathaway acting prissy, Wilson acting blind and horny and absurd, and that’s it. There is no other joke. Those are all the jokes. Every single one of them is obnoxiously extended out far beyond its welcome and are telegraphed from a mile away. Not much else to say about the matter. It’s not funny. End of story.
I didn’t care. I didn’t care about what was happening because it felt like a bunch of random shenanigans with no consequences to anything that transpired. I didn’t care about these characters because there was no depth to them, other than their “slobbish” and “snobbish” qualities. I didn’t care about laughing because ten minutes in I was dead inside as the film tried so desperately to force even the tiniest snicker and failed drastically. The little bit of drama was shallow and brief. The acting was fine, I suppose. Aesthetically speaking, the cinematography didn’t stand out as anything more than a generic modern comedy. There was a nice touch with the opening credit animated sequence, that was a quaint little 90 seconds; nothing special, but I appreciated that there was at least an opening credit sequence. Other than that, this was one of the laziest comedies that I’ve seen all year. They didn’t care so I, in return, didn’t care. At least Loqueesha and A Madea Family Funeral had some unintentional hilarity inserted occasionally, The Hustle has nothing. No personality or charm or ambition, a run of the mill modern adlib that masquerades as a motion picture. Avoid it.
Original vs Remake
Which film did you prefer? The original or the remake?
That's All Folks...
The Hustle… I’m personally glad that it’s over. What did you think though? Like or dislike? Agree or disagree? Wish that I’d get hustled out of half a million dollars? Ha! Jokes on you, I’ve never seen a million dollars in my life and I probably never will because I’m broke… Oh so very broke. Anyways, if you so happened to have enjoyed my review then please do me a favor and share this article around the social media world. Thank you all so much for reading and have yourselves a good day!
© 2019 John Plocar