The Hustle review
When I went to France for the first time in 2006, I recall that on my first visit to the Eiffel Tower, I was confronted by a young woman in her twenties and asked me in English for money. She said that she and her mother had been stuck in the country. Nothing more. Instead of giving her anything, I pointed to a random person, claimed that he was a friend and that he was rich. I told her to ask him, and as soon as she went to him, I walked in the other direction. This is one of several stories about a con artist that tried to scam me only for me to scam my way out of it.
I certainly don't feel bad for what I did, but I also don't think that woman felt bad either. Con artists are already sociopathic to be living a life of telling lies, feeling unashamed about the game their playing and the money their making off of it. Because they've been with us since the beginning of time, their a good source for comedy. In fact, one of them, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, has been given a remake in The Hustle. Let's see if it can be persuasive.
In the French Rivera, a professional con artist Josephine Chesterfield (played by Anne Hathaway) is constantly using her charm and sexuality to lure wealthy men into giving money only for them to be cleaned out. With assistance from a policewoman, she has become wealthy and has made smart choices that make her even richer. While on a train, she's seated with Penny Rust (played by Rebel Wilson), a free spirited, smaller con artist who also wants in on the territory. She tries to send her away, but Penny only wants her to teach her.
Josephine does her best to make her a better con artist, despite her crass nature and goofy attitude. The two eventually realize that a billionaire tech guru Thomas Westerburg (played by Alex Sharp) is staying at a nearby resort and make him their next target. They agree o make a wager to see who can get money out of him first. If Josephine does, then Penny has to leave. If Penny does, then Josephine has to let her stay. They each try to pull off their charm and wit to see who the better con artist is.
I've never seen Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, so I have no idea how close The Hustle is, but I would expect about much of the same. It's clear that the movie wanted to change something by giving it a female spin, though it rarely adds much to the premise, which is okay to begin with. I do give credit to both Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson who get out a couple of jokes every now and then that I did like. Their clearly trying to do everything to have fun with the premise and get out a laugh every now and then. The problem is that I didn’t laugh that often.
I'd talk about character, but their really isn't much development when theirs nothing to work with. The script sets them both off as con artists and neither really has a goal. Anne Hathaway already seems complete from another movie story and Rebel Wilson doesn't seem to have a lot of investment. If she loses, then she goes back to America…where she'll likely continue scamming the men she was seeing. Without anything really at stake, even for a comedic reason, it makes this for a more dull experience then anything.
There were people in my theater that did laugh. They got more out of it then I did. Perhaps what I can say is that it's still shot nice and I do like seeing the French Riviera. And as I said, some jokes did work for me. It's nothing terrible or bad. It's simply a comedy that was written fast, made fast, released fast, and had hoped to make some money fast. It's a bit of a swindle, but a swindle that some people are still going to enjoy. I guess it's merely a matter of the movie not being for me.
I'll give this three French Riviera tickets out of five. If I learned anything, is that movies like The Hustle have an audience. I'm just not a part of it. If this sounds like something you'll like, then you may get something else. Otherwise, avoid being swindled by not seeing this.