Cast: Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp, Ingrid Oliver
Director: Chris Addison
I guess 2019 just isn’t going to be Anne Hathaway’s year. After the colossal failure that Serenity (I tried to wipe my memory of that atrocity), Hathaway has decided to turn towards comedy in The Hustle. I understand that right off the bat that this movie is not made for me. A movie about two women hustlers who take money and jewels from unsuspecting men didn’t exactly look like a movie that would attract a person like me, and to my lack of surprise, I was right. Generally unfunny from start to finish and undone by a bizarre final act, The Hustle wastes the talents of Hathaway and serves as the blueprint of how not to make a mainstream comedy movie.
The film follows a duo of female con artists, Penny Rust (Wilson), a small-time crook who focuses on petty cash and free meals, and Josephine Chesterfield (Hathaway), an international criminal who steals thousands of dollars from men every night. When Penny discovers how much more she could be doing with her scams, she teams up with Josephine to follow in her footsteps. As someone who’s not a huge fan of Wilson’s brand of comedy, her jokes are at the forefront of the film for the majority of the 94 minute runtime. It’s the same recycled, “I’m fat and Josephine is pretty,” jokes that WIlson uses in all of her movies, and at some point this schtick will get old. For me, it got old about three movies ago, and she needs to show us she can do something different. Outside of Wilson’s usual issues, i was surprised by the amount of sex jokes throughout the movie. These jokes can be very effective when they land properly, but much like Wilson’s previous issues, there’s just too many in a short period of time for them to be as funny as planned. It’s almost like the script notes for this film just said, “Wilson falls, herpes joke, Wilson gets called fat, sex, Wilson gets compared to Hathaway, sexual pun, repeat for 94 minutes.” If there were a couple of different options to spread out this monotony maybe it wouldn’t feel as dull, but this is the type of film that goes after the lowest common denominator audience and won’t care about trying something new and potentially risky. Outside of these elements, I was stunned to see this movie absolutely turn on its original thesis in the last 30 minutes. One of the lessons Josephine teaches Penny is that men will fall for anything they do because they’ll never believe that a woman is smarter than them. When Thomas Westerburg (Sharp), a young tech billionaire, is introduced to our leading duo, it fractures the pair and completely compromises their ideology. Wasn’t this supposed to be some “women power” movie? Then why would these two fight over some random guy regardless of how rich he was? Or better yet, why introduce the message in the first place if you’re going to tear it down that easily? Maybe there was a funny movie buried somewhere in the script with some of the actors involved in this film, but ultimately MGM and Universal played it safe and gave us something generic and uninspired.
Overall, The Hustle is just a dumb comedy, so there’s really nothing to complain about. What you can complain about is the fact that this film has made its budget back more than three times over. If you want better movies to come out, tell Hollywood with your wallet, not with your voice. Decreased profits are the only way to get studios to change and they never will if all of their bad movies make a profit like this one. As for Hathaway, she’s 0 for 2 to start the year, but hopefully with The Last Thing He Wanted coming out later this year she finishes the year on a high note.
Overall Score: 2/10