The Hustle (2019) – Summary, Review (with Spoilers)

Title Card - The Hustle (2019)
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While comical at times, Rebel Wilson’s style and Anne Hathaway’s, when it comes to comedy, more so clashes than compliments one another.


Director(s) Chris Addison
Screenplay By Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning, Dale Launer, Jac Schaeffer
Date Released 5/10/2019
Genre(s) Comedy, Crime
Good If You Like Comedies Centered On Female Characters

Physical Comedy

Isn’t For You If You Want To Get To Know The Characters

Desire To Be Laughing Throughout The Whole Film

Noted Cast
Penny Rebel Wilson
Josephine Anne Hathaway
Thomas Alex Sharp

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The Hustle Plot Summary

Penny has been a small-time con artist whose shtick is pretty much catfishing men into giving her money for a fake sister’s breast job. However, she stumbles upon Josephine, a more sophisticated grifter, and decides she wants to up her game a bit. Problem is, Josephine only has employees, not partners, so Penny has to decide on an internship or to kick rocks. She decides to learn from Josephine instead, but there comes a point when the student wants to prove she is on the level, if not better, than the master.

Enter Thomas who becomes their mark to prove their methods are better than the other. However, neither Penny nor Josephine are truly prepped for how Thomas handles their attention.

 

Highlights

Individually, You Could Imagine Wilson or Hathaway Nailing This Film

Peggy (Rain Wilson) trying to make herself cry.
Peggy (Rain Wilson)

In The Hustle, Rebel Wilson is Rebel Wilson. Which means if you’ve seen one of her movies before, this will feel like the exact same character with just a different name and occupation – right down to having issues with how people react to her body. But, on its own, Wilson still finds a way to deliver a comical performance, primarily through physical comedy, and the occasional touching moment which could get you in your feelings.

As for Hathaway, she brings this weird vibe. One which feels like she is taking this movie way too seriously and is supposed to act as the straight man to Wilson’s funny man, or rather woman. However, if you don’t compare her to Wilson, you can see her play someone so into what they do it borders on being absurd. Creating the type of humor which isn’t in your face and over the top, but perhaps could be seen as a thinking person’s humor.

Criticism

There Isn’t Any Real Backstory

With both Penny and Josephine being con artist, their pasts aren’t really dived into at all. Leading you to believe Penny picked her occupation strictly as revenge against men who aren’t attracted to her and as for Josephine? Well, because being a trophy wife or gold digger would mean being stuck to one fool and too reliant on him. So for both, it would be easier to bounce around than stick with one person.

But, as for learning anything beyond their preferred method of conning men? Well, you’ll get little to nothing. Which makes them often feel a bit shallow and may contribute to how weak the jokes sometimes feel.

On The Fence

The Comedy Value Is Inconsistent

Here is the thing, I recognize comedy is subjective but I also feel like this isn’t a funny movie. Wilson still feels like she is biting on Melissa McCarthy’s shtick but without having a character who has depth to them. Then with Hathaway, as much as you have to recognize her talent, often it feels like there isn’t an attempt to have her compliment or compete with Wilson to be funny. If anything, she either sets up the joke or is the joke. And each and every joke is a bit old and stale since Hathaway seems like she’d prefer to be the funny one but isn’t willing to go as far as Wilson for a laugh.

Hathaway and Wilson Don’t Make The Best Comedic Duo

Josephine (Anne Hathaway) being felt up by Penny and jokingly called a man.
Josephine (Anne Hathaway)

Though the big issue may just be that Hathaway and Wilson just don’t make a good duo. One could argue it is because they are so opposite that their styles just don’t compliment one another. Plus, there isn’t any real effort to make them compliment one another. Rather, they are treated as two stars in their own right, instead of co-stars, and with Wilson making a fool of herself, shamelessly, Hathaway is often eclipsed. Mind you, there is some attempt to compensate by giving her something witty to say or show her talents as an actress, but it rarely works when she is playing off Wilson, so it just makes an awkward scene often worse.

The Hustle Overall: Mixed (Divisive)

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While it has its moments, The Hustle rarely seems like it knew how to combine the styles of its two leads to make them equals or at least compliment one another. Thus leading to Wilson often overshadowing Hathaway and Hathaway seeming like she deserves better or maybe didn’t give any input which could have made it so Josephine could have played upon her humor. Hence the mixed label since, while you will occasionally laugh, as the film goes on, it loses its humor, the story grows weaker, and you realize there might be nothing to save it. Even as Thomas gives it a small adrenaline shot which is nullified almost as soon as it takes effect.

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