Dan's Review: "The Hustle" lacks originality
May 11, 2019 11:35PM
By Dan Metcalf
Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson in The Hustle - © 2019 MGM.
The Hustle (MGM)
Starring Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp, Ingrid Oliver, Nicholas Woodeson, Emma Davies, Dean Norris, Casper Christensen.
Written by Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning, Dale Launer, and Jack Schaeffer, based on "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” (1988) which is based on "Bedtime Story" (1964).
Directed by Chris Addison.
There’s “overdone” and there’s “really overdone.” I’m not sure why someone felt the need to do a remake of a 1988 remake that was based on a 1964 film, but here we are with The Hustle. The original 1964 film was Bedtime Story, starring David Niven, Marlon Brando, and Shirley Jones. The 1988 film was Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, starring Steve Martin, Michael Caine, and Glenn Headley. The main argument in favor of another remake is the change in gender of the main characters, this time starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson in the main roles.
Hathaway plays Josephine, a career criminal mastermind living in luxury on the Mediterranean coast, frauding millions of dollars from unsuspecting, wealthy men. Enter Penny (Rebel Wilson), also a career criminal fraudster, but with less class and lower-end targets. The two meet on a train and Josephine uses her connections and influence to get rid of Penny, who has plans to move in on the action in the posh resort community. Despite her best efforts, Penny refuses to go away and eventually blackmails Josephine into making her a partner. Josephine reluctantly agrees and employs Penny as an apprentice, having her pose as an abhorrent sister who runs off suitors who leave behind expensive engagement rings after being scared off. After refusing to pay Penny her cut of the profits, the pair engage in a wager to see who can use their skills to fraud a nerdy tech millionaire (Alex Sharp) out of $500,000. As the competition rages on, both women are blindsided by a twist in their deal, leading to an unlikely conclusion.
The Hustle might be a fun and clever film, if only we hadn’t seen it twice before, and with much better casts with even better chemistry. The Hustle fails on both levels as Hathaway provides what can best be described as a “dinner theater-caliber” performance, complete with over-the-top fake accents and flamboyant gestures. Rebel Wilson has her comedic moments, but nothing we haven’t seen before, such as her penchant for riffing on a variety of body parts and frequent pratfalls.
Speaking of repeating an already worn-out story, The Hustle mirrors Dirty Rotten Scoundrels nearly shot-for-shot, so if you’ve seen the 1988 version, you’ve seen The Hustle (only much worse).
It would be fine if The Hustle’s only problem was lack of originality, but when coupled with the lousy performances and lack of chemistry, it’s a forgettable movie worth forgetting. In the meantime, let’s hope no one comes up with another reason to remake the same story.
"The Hustle" Trailer