Review: The Hustle
I hope and like to think that my taste in comedy is broad enough to enjoy all the stylings of the genre. From slapstick to dark humour, one liners and sitcoms. Just about everything has its own merits and may or may not connect with a specific audience. There are few films that manage to elicit nothing, though, and The Hustle is a rare occasion where a comedy movie is lacking exactly that – comedy. An obvious spin on the classic 80s flick Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Hustle is just about one of the worst comedies of the year. That’s quite the achievement given how many awful comedy originals have released this year.
Directed by Chris Addison who you may know from his stints on Mock the Week, The Thick of It or the occasional stand-up show, gives us his directorial debut. A debut that is tremendously weak, and truly uninspired in its direction. He does nothing to showcase his unique flair or style if he has one, and it’s something he can hopefully improve on in his future works. Adapting the story of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is easier said than done, and it seems in the transitional process he forgot to copy the jokes and humour into The Hustle.
It’s a truly miserable affair, and leading ladies Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson can do nothing to improve this. Wilson in particular has had a rush of awful movies, from her supporting role in the Pitch Perfect trilogy to the unbearable Isn’t It Romantic. Her leading lady position is baffling, and her most memorable work at this point is that of her brief role in the abysmal Grimsby which released a few years back. Hathaway on the other hand has taken a back seat to producing credible and enjoyable work, and with my limited experience she seems to have dropped off of the face of film since 2014’s Interstellar. She’s cropping up in the likes of The Intern and Ocean’s 8 which surely isn’t a sign of quality.
But to give credit where it is due, Wilson and Hathaway try their best with such an awful script. It’s probably an optimistic decision to have the person that wrote The Hustle to handle the Black Widow movie, but right now that is in fact happening. The original Dirty Rotten Scoundrel writers are credited, which is interesting since one of them has been dead for over a decade now. Very difficult to pass on script notes to the spiritual world, but I’m sure writer Jacqueline Schaffer did just that.
So bland and a genuine struggle to get through, The Hustle may be the worst movie 2019 has seen so far. An amalgamation of poor performances, terrible writing and dull direction that does nothing to present the hopeful talent of a new director. We all have poor debuts, but nothing quite makes The Hustle redeemable aside from one or two chuckle worthy moments throughout its bloated running time.