Review: The Hustle (2019)

The Hustle (2019)

Directed by: Chris Addison | 93 minutes | comedy, crime | Actors: Rebel Wilson, Anne Hathaway, Timothy Simons, Douggie McMeekin, Casper Christensen, Ingrid Oliver, Nicholas Woodeson, John Hales, Dean Norris, Francisco Labbe, Aaron Neil, Alex Sharp, Bruno Sevilla, Rebekah Staton, Emma Davies, Rob Delaney

It will happen to you. Being asked to follow in the footsteps of Brando, Niven, Caine and (Steve) Martin. Yet that’s what happened to actresses Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson when they were asked to star in “The Hustle.” This American comedy is a remake of ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ (1988, Caine and Martin), in turn a remake of ‘Bedtime Story’ (1964, Brando and Niven). Those predecessors were received enthusiastically, what about this follower?

In ‘The Hustle’ we meet Penny Rust and Josephine Chesterfield, two crooks of completely different levels. Josephine appears to be a neat English lady, living in a luxurious villa on the Côte d’Azur. Penny is a slightly fat American jock who flees her homeland because the ground is getting a little too hot under her crooked feet. By chance she ends up in the same town as Josephine. In the first instance, the ladies join forces, but in the second instance it turns out to be unsuccessful. So they make a bet to scam a super-rich IT nerd. The best con artist then gets the rights over the local territory.

Like its predecessors, ‘The Hustle’ revolves around the clash between an aristocratic English character and a more vulgar American con man. No wonder the film is a combination of flat comedy and classy scam film. The ingenious way in which the women light things up is cleverly put together, whereby the spectator realizes what is happening just a little earlier than the victim. The flat jokes, on the other hand, can be seen coming from afar and are often not to be seen. Rebel Wilson in a medieval chastity suit, that genre.

This combination will not suit everyone, but the makers have at least done their best for an optimal result. Rebel Wilson fits perfectly into the role of the vulgar (but endearing) Penny. Anne Hathaway is decent in her role of Josephine, but great when she disguises herself as the famed doctor Schauffhausen. Then Hathaway turns out to be a fantastic comedienne, bone dry and hilarious at the same time.

For the rest, the makers have done a good job. Nice music, nice humor, great supporting roles and a nice summer decor. You would almost forget that the combination of high and low often does not work. Because in the end ‘The Hustle’ is like caviar with Flemish fries: good to enjoy individually, less successful as a combination.

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