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The Hustle – film-authority.com

The Hustle – film-authority.com

Updating Dirty Rotten Scoundrels/Bedtime Story for the MeToo era sounds like a tricky but interesting proposition; part of the concept of the original film was the idea of ​​men betting on their ability to seduce women, so the concept is ripe to be revisited and redressed for a different era. And The Hustle gets things right from the get-go by casting Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway, two female performers who can generally spark a laugh when they have to.

There’s a good line near the beginning when Josephine Chesterfield (Hathaway) suggests to Penny Sharp (Wilson) that most men are easily conned ‘because they can’t believe that a woman might be smarter than them’. That sounds good, but the narrative completely upends that idea by having both of them fall for a man’s confidence trick, exactly what the audience doesn’t want to see. That said, there’s a few nice moments in the early set-up as Chesterfield encounters, rejects and then mentors the gauche Australian, as they prey on the rich and foolish men who holiday in The French Riviera resort of Beaumont Sur Mer.

A set of hotel rooms called ‘Suite Caroline’ gives a flavor of the humor, girlish, silly, and without the whiff of misogyny that makes the previous versions feel rather unpalatable today. Chris Addison keeps things moving, but plots and sub-plots feel unresolved, and the big laughs never quite materialize despite the game performances from the leading ladies.

The Hustle did well enough at the box-office, but remaking male films with female leads feels like a lazy answer; can’t women get a chance to establish IP of their own? From Ghostbusters to Oceans 8, reverse-sex recasting seems to automatically raise hostility, and perhaps that’s the point to troll those who can only see these things one way. But fresh times call for fresh properties, and part of the problem with today’s movies is that they too often seem to hark back to the past rather than reflect on where we are now. Either way The Hustle is a decent time-passer, even if it’s not as good as the Van McCoy song from which it takes its name.