Comedy featured

Review: ‘The Hustle’ is an Unbalanced Attempt at Feminist Comedy

May 10, 2019Sherry Li

The Hustle, from director Chris Addison, manages to bring enough of a good time to make it possibly worth seeing. But don't get your hopes up — this riff on the 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is no Girls Trip.

Anne Hathaway plays Josephine Chesterfield, a posh, sophisticated con woman who swindles men out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, while Rebel Wilson is Penny Rust, a small-time, ungraceful hustler. Where Josephine is sexy and sultry, Penny is clumsy and outrageous, setting up a potentially hilarious dynamic between their two personalities.

Meeting by chance on a train, Penny and Josephine quickly become familiar with each other and the two eventually become rivals and somewhat colleagues, as they work on conning the members of the opposite sex in the seaside village of Beaumont-sur-Mer. When Penny grows tired of the dynamic, the two of them decide to make a bet — whoever can trick a rich, young tech mogul named Thomas Westerburg (Alex Sharp) into giving them a piece of his fortune can remain in town, while the other must leave and never return.

While there is plenty of room in this film to explore the relationship dynamic between the two leads, it never feels like the movie digs deep enough. For a gender-swapped story focused on supposedly feminist comedy, it never quite builds on showcasing the heart of what a friendship between two smart, successful and scheming women would be like. The humor also oftentimes feels unbalanced, because although Hathaway has proven to have great comedic timing and enough charisma to be funny, she's never quite given enough material to keep up with Wilson's pace. And while there are plenty of funny moments, the first act drags on too long, as does the third.

It's clear that Hathaway and Wilson have great chemistry together. However, and perhaps with a tighter script, stronger jokes, and a sleeker cut of the film, the result could have exceeded expectations, given its incredible cast. Even Sharp manages to hold his own next to the women, playing an apparently sweet, naive young man.

Ultimately, The Hustle doesn't do enough to establish itself as an amazing movie, but it's still a palatable film, especially for women. With enough laughs to make for a good time, this is a comedy that's good for a girls night in with a bottle of wine, but it's not something moviegoers should go out of their way to see.

The Hustle releases May 10th, 2019 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 on appeal for crude sexual content and language. Its runtime is 1 hr. 34 min.

You May Also Like