The Hustle

Released in 2019. Written by Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning, Dale Launer, & Jac Schaeffer. Directed by Chris Addison. Starring Anne Hathaway & Rebel Wilson. running time 1 hour 33 minutes.

Synopsis

Penny Rust (Rebel Wilson) is a small time hustler who uses a picture of a large breasted woman to con men out of $500 for breast implants. When the last guy she cons finds her at a bar, she manages to get away using her dress to disguise her as a bag of trash.

Josephine Chesterfield (Anne Hathaway) is a big time hustler who lives on the French Riviera with her employees Brigitte (Ingrid Oliver) –who also works at the jail– and Albert (Nicholas Woodeson) –her butler who helps with the cons as well. Josephine pretends to be a dumb American lottery winner to con a gambler down on his luck out of a pricey diamond bracelet.

While on a train in France, Josephine observes Penny con a fellow passenger into buying her dinner and is somewhat impressed. They share a train compartment together and Josephine learns Penny is on her way to the French Riviera to con wealthy men. Josephine has Brigitte arrest her and try to send her back to the states. Penny has second thoughts and shows up at Josephine’s villa to ask her to train her on being a better con.

Josephine agrees to train her in dressing elegantly, speaking, and self-defense. Josephine decides to use Penny on her Lord of the Rings con where Josephine gets engaged but convinces her suitor he must accept her sister as well. Penny is disguised as a Medieval loving wench with long stringy hair and bad teeth and no manners. Of course, the gentlemen suitors all run leaving the engagement rings behind for them to keep. After a few rounds, Josephine pays Brigitte and Albert but not Penny which makes Penny want to leave–just what Josephine was hoping.

Instead of leaving though, Penny and Josephine decide to wager whoever gets the most money out the next target will get to stay in the French Riviera while the other one has to leave. They see a clumsy young guy, Thomas Westerberg (Alex Sharp) who they think is rich and get to work.

Josephine gets Thomas’ attention at the casino but just she puts on the charm, Penny interrupts acting like a blind person. Thomas finds her endearing and agrees to help Penny much to the frustration of Josephine. Penny tells Thomas she needs $500,000 for special therapy to cure her “hysterical blindness” and tells him of a doctor near by. Brigitte overhears and tells Josephine of the con.

Josephine makes a website pretending to be the eye doctor to get close to Thomas. Part of the therapy is to do fun things in front of blind Penny to make her want to see again. Thomas is very kind to Penny which makes her start to feel bad for conning him so she tries to talk Josephine into canceling the bet. Josephine says no and tries to seduce Thomas.

The next day, Thomas goes to see Penny and tells her he will give her the money for her eyes but Penny is mad at him for sleeping with Josephine. Thomas tells her he already gave the money to Josephine which makes Penny feel bad since it was all he had. Later at the airport, Penny says goodbye to Thomas and tries to give him the $500,000 from her account and Thomas refuses saying he’ll give it back. He boards the plane and leaves just Josephine arrives telling Penny she never slept with Thomas and that he stole her clothes, jewels, and $500,000 for a phone app. Thomas texts them to reveal he was the real con Medusa.

Two weeks later, Josephine and Penny are sitting outside talking about what happened. Josephine gives Penny some money. Thomas shows up, as a tour guide for a group of wealthy women, and proposes they become partners. Penny kisses Thomas and Josephine agrees to the deal as long as she gets her money back.

The film ends with Josephine, Penny, and Thomas working a new con.

What I Liked

I chuckled once while watching this; although, I cannot remember when…it might have been during one the Hortense scenes.

The French Riviera is beautiful, too.

What I Wished Was Better **(edited)

So many things. It’s a remake, or a female version rather, of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin–which I really liked–which is actually a remake of Bedtime Story (1964) which I have not seen. Considering this, there are far too many writers involved which might account for one reason why it didn’t appeal to me. ***The same writers for The Hustle are the same writers for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels are the same writers for Bedtime Story…so apparently, these guys cannot or do not have an original idea, nor do they know how to adapt a male driven story for female characters…

It wasn’t that the dialogue was terrible, because it had it’s moments which mostly felt like Rebel Wilson being Rebel Wilson in her scenes and Anne Hathaway trying her Michael Caine impersonation; however, the overall story just doesn’t seem plausible. ***So, the dialogue is ALMOST word for word from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The reason why it doesn’t work. Also, the writers took certain scenes one step further (sex on the plane) or expanded bits (Rebel Wilson orders twice the amount of food on the train than Steve Martin in DRS) which degraded the female characters.

During the training sequence, there’s a lot of self-defense training which is totally random and unnecessary since they never use it. The plane sex scene is completely unnecessary since nothing is generated from it.

Based on Rebel’s character Penny, I can see how she would get duped by Thomas but not Josephine–as sophisticated as she is. She would not invest money into the mark she’s trying to con.

By the way, the poster and bit on IMDB says the two women con the men who’ve wronged them. Totally false. The men they con are strangers which is very misleading. The only thing dirty rotten about any of the men they target is the fact they’re men. Boooo…

I feel like this is just another attempt for male writers to make female actors THINK they’re getting strong, independent, female characters to play when in reality, the characters are shallow, superficial, women living in the fantasy world of outsmarting men all while getting conned themselves and then partnering up as if they cannot do it without a man. No thanks. I’m sure it wasn’t pitched this way; but it sure felt like a con by the male team to take my purchase power at the box office. Jokes on you fellas, I watched it for free on Amazon Prime…

Final Thoughts

Thank God I didn’t pay money to see this in the theater or as a rental. I know women need to work but they really need to be pickier about the roles they take. Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson are better than this so I hope they got paid well….Available to stream. Watch the trailer below:

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