When approaching The Hustle remember two things. One, this is meant to be a comedy, its sole purpose is to try and make you laugh as much as possible, and two this is a remake of ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the 1988 classic starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin. With that knowledge, you should go in expecting at least two things: lots of laughs and strong chemistry between the leads. Not much to ask for really is it?
In this remake, the leads are recast as female con artists. Anne Hathaway as Josephine and Rebel Wilson as Penny. One an expert who targets rich men, and the other a low-level con artist who deals with robbing horny men who are happy to give up 500 quid for a girl to have a boob job. Fate intervenes and the two are brought together in the sunny south of France. With very different methods and very different personalities, it’s not long before they are clashing and going head to head. Eventually, a bet is made and a con is on.
Director Chris Addison’s first attempt at directing a feature film offers little to get excited about. There really is a lack of understanding of the original idea and what made the original popular. It also lacks the chance to really say anything. Whatever the filmmaker wanted to say it has completely missed the mark. This doesn’t empower women it, it does the complete reverse. This is a film that could have been a real high point in female-led films (especially comedies), but sadly it comes across as insulting and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
What doesn’t help the actors is the unfunny script. Not even more seasoned comedy actors could squeeze anything out of it. With both leads so unlikeable it is very hard to find somebody to root for. Hathaway’s use of accents is beyond annoying. Her posh schtick (which I think is meant to be a cover) can only be compared to nails on a blackboard. The sweet relief on a German accent doesn’t cover the fact this may be Anne Hathaway’s most disappointing role yet. She is simply unfunny and unconvincing in a character that is meant to be the backbone of the movie. The fact that Rebel Wilson gives the strongest performance is as worrying as it is true. Wilson yet again seems to just play herself and does get the best lines and the few laughs that are on offer. What has worked as a secondary character in the past wears thin very quickly when pushed to the forefront of a movie like this.
The Hustle is unfunny and unlikeable. From start to finish it is a test to keep your attention, but worst of all it already feels dated. This is a film that should have been left in the past. Stay clear.
Directed by: Chris Addison
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp