The Hustle movie cast: Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp, Ashley McGuire
The Hustle movie director: Chris Addison
The Hustle movie rating: Two stars
The Hustle is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels redux, with the same scriptwriters as that 1988 film but with women as the con artists. On paper, this is a winsome deal. On screen, it should be too, given both Hathaway and Wilson’s talents. However, somehow, this film where women get to execute that truth about men being too predictably easy to fool, never really amounts to more than a few mild chuckles.
One reason for this is that while Hathaway’s Josephine spells out why women make the best con artists — "because men can never imagine that a woman could be smarter than them" — the film plays Josephine and Wilson’s Penny to the worst stereotypes men imagine of them. Josephine is polished, beautiful, richly dressed and living fabulously. Penny is togged out in the kind of clothes that any person that smart would know better than to wear. And the pretty one "rescues" the other. The tricks they pull off are also so ridiculously transparent that it’s a surprise anyone falls for them.
The Hustle does pick up in the latter half, with Alex Sharp coming in as a tech wizard with billions in the bank and a heart of gold. It’s then that the rivalry/comradeship between Josephine and Penny really acquires an edge and a brief unpredictability, with Sharp’s Thomas providing just the right nudge to move them along.
The film also suffers from the lack of any real chemistry between Josephine and Penny. While Hathaway is good on her own, and looks exquisite, her Josephine is too cold and calculated to be likable. Wilson, on the other hand, is a charm, her spontaneity and willingness to let go can have anyone genuinely fooled.