In The Hustle, Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson do their best to rob the audience of a few laughs, but unfortunately in this movie about two cons, there prove to be very few pros.
A gender-flipped remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Hustle follows glamorous con woman Josephine Chesterfield (Anne Hathaway) who makes a living by swindling the wealthy and gullible male tourists who visit her town of Beaumont-sur-Mer. When amateur American hustler Penny Rust (Rebel Wilson) shows up, Josephine takes her under her wing. However, when a young tech millionaire appears, the two compete to see who can squeeze $500,000 out of him and claim the town for themselves.
Funnily enough, I’m actually an enormous fan of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. It’s a fantastic 80s comedy that is laugh out loud funny, tells an engaging and realistic story, is full of twists and turns, and is bolstered by performances from its lead actors Michael Caine and Steve Martin. Admittedly, I was concerned when a remake was announced (even though ironically enough Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a remake of the 1964 movie Bedtime Story). In today’s era of constant remakes and franchise reboots, it’s extraordinarily rare that one is able to be an enjoyable and fresh spin on the original story. I’m sad to report that The Hustle is yet another unnecessarily dull addition to the growing collection of 21st century remakes.
The biggest problem with The Hustle is that it’s almost an exact shot-for-shot replica of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The movie employs the exact same plot elements, scenes, dialogue, jokes, and camera angles. It’s jarring to say the least. When a remake is a 90 per cent carbon copy of its predecessor, one has to question why it was made in the first place. If it’s not looking at the source material through a fresh pair of eyes, then what’s the point of remaking it? Granted, there are some original jokes written into The Hustle, but they all come off as bland desperate, and juvenile. Not only is The Hustle a soulless imitation of the work it’s based on, but it manages to be devoid of charm as well.
Hathaway and Wilson have a decent amount of chemistry but ultimately felt like they were in deprecate movies. The dynamic is wasted on this dull and forgettable script. They try their hardest to create a spark of excitement into the movie, but it’s an uphill battle with the material they’re given. Which is upsetting because if Hathaway and Wilson had been paired in any other movie together, I imagine it would have been a smashing success. Perhaps they can give it another shot in 2020. As long as Hathaway ditches the questionably bizarre British accent she uses in this movie for no apparent reason.
If you’re unfamiliar with Dirty Rotten Scoundrels there’s a chance that you may end up liking The Hustle. However, I’d recommend that you wait for a Netflix release before you judge for yourself. To pay the price of theatre admission may in fact be the ultimate con.
Universal Pictures releases The Hustle on Friday, May 10, 2019
Review by Luke Elisio