Abominably Bad: Our Review of ‘The Hustle’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - May 09, 2019
Abominably Bad: Our Review of ‘The Hustle’

There are lazy forays into filmmaking. There are mindless and inane movies that are billed as comedies without ever making you laugh. There are talented actors who are resigned to starring in films that they should know better than starring in, only getting out of the experience a paycheck (it better be a big one) and a nice monthlong vacation.

Then there is The Hustle, which combines all these elements and makes the experience so irritating, so dull and unfunny and befuddling that you may never want to see another movie again. This jokeless 90-minute joke of a movie finds Anne Hathaway as a rich con artist hanging out in the south of France who teams up with and sometimes against Rebel Wilson’s aspiring hustler. Hijinks and laughs do not ensue as scenarios unfold with bits and gags that anyone who has a passing notion of who these actresses are can figure out before the film even starts. That it’s being referred to as a gender-flipped version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is an unparalleled smear against that film – I feel uncomfortable even writing that title in a review of this film.

Hathaway is uppity and elegant. Wilson is loud and physical. That’s the basis for any attempts at humour here, as they use these skills to manipulate various rich men into giving them money – because men want to play the hero. Hathaway’s character makes a couple comments to that effect early on, but The Hustle makes very clear it has no message, no meaning, and no belief in anything whatsoever. It is devoid of not only entertainment, but purpose. And light. And joy.

An abomination such as this is puzzling for a lot of reason, not the least of which is that these actors are far more talented and have been much funnier and more compelling in very similar roles. But that this kind of film, with its plethora of stabs at physical comedy, a few homophobic asides, and scene after scene of lifeless writing, gets made is mind-boggling. Considering that three men came up with this story, and another man directed, it seems that this forced, utterly unremarkable film could have maybe given a chance to a woman to make something crappy and still get paid.

There aren’t enough pretty shots of the French Riviera, nor as the costumes and set dressing at all inspired, save for one or two dresses, which is odd considered the glam and high life this film tries to emphasize. The two women may have had fun shooting, but they never really having much a comedic rapport on screen ,and instead are just doing their bit at the other person and not with them. Wilson is vulgar and comes to the closest to actually eliciting laugh out loud moments, though it’s akin to throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks (there is also a moment where her character is literally stuck to the wall). Hathaway seems content on doing her own thing, including offering an assortment of foreign accents, while also enjoying a European vacation. Their con game eventually turns towards a young investor, and the movie plods towards an ending and a turn that, if you didn’t see coming, well do I have a piece of fine jewelry to sell you!

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