REVIEW: The Hustle

I like Anne Hathaway. I have done since I took a leaf out of her book in The Princess Diaries and tried transforming myself from a frizzy haired, goofy eight-year-old into a darling queen. (That might explain why my father made me watch a lot more sport after that.)

I also like Rebel Wilson, despite the fact that in her 15-or-so years active, she’s only made, like, two good films.

You can imagine, then, how tempted I was to eat several large (and overly-priced) boxes of popcorn, wait in the screening of The Hustle for a further six to eight hours to digest the kernels, only to fling my faeces at the projector like a crazed monkey, after seeing how disappointingly underwhelming it was.

The Hustle is advertised as a remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – which, itself is a remake of Bedtime Story. Unfortunately in this case, third time isn’t quite a charm, as Hathaway and Wilson’s outing lacks any of the wit or comedic back-and-forths as its predecessors.

Anne and Rebel team up as two scam artists – one rich and eloquent; the other low-end and crass, respectively – to con men who have wronged them and the world. Here’s my issue – I wish Hollywood would stop making crap all-female remakes of movies.

This isn’t me, as a straight, white male, raging against a female’s success (like, unfortunately, 98% of the internet). I want to see men and women strive in the industry as well as seeing good movies. That’s it. But when we make these movies, we automatically pit men against women – who can do it better? Wouldn’t it be better to write and produce a good, original female-led movies, and say “Look. This is the shit-hot stuff we do?” as opposed to “You did it. We can too”?

And for every hilariously brilliant Bridesmaids, you get tonnes of bad remakes, such as Ghostbusters, American Psycho II or – in this case – The Hustle. This only fuels the hatred online, and lets the man-babies win. The moral is: make good, funny movies with women – who are fucking hilarious and talented and kick-ass – and not have the underlying battle between men and women.

I appreciate this is supposed to be a feel-good movie for womankind. I was into it at times. Rebel and Anne’s characters con the shitty, misogynistic men of the world – I can get on board with that. What I can’t get on board with is what happens towards the end of the film, and – yes – there will be spoilers ahead.

Throughout the movie, Anne’s character, Josephine, quizzes Rebel on why female con artists are so successful. Her answer is simple; because men refused to believe that women were smarter than them. This is a brilliant premise, which could have jabbed at Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in a cheeky manner. So the pair fool rich, sexist men throughout, until they go to war against one another trying to con Thomas Westerburg, a young, innocent entrepreneur who’s funding his own app development.

Here’s the twist – he’s not really a young, innocent entrepreneur, but a conman himself, who fools both Anne and Rebel into giving him tonnes of money. And he gets away with it. He wins. So… In this feel-good movie about women outwitting men, you have a man outwit women? The final scenes show Rebel and Anne wallowing in their defeat, only for Thomas to join them and aid them in doing further successful heists. All I got from this horrid movie was that, apparently, women are only victorious when helped by a male. How is that a good moral of this story? Had the entire set-up not have been “we’re here to beat the men who wrong us”, I could maybe get past it, but in this case, it just sets women back, like, 93,594 years.

Even if we ignored the fact that this pro-female movie seemed so anti-women, The Hustle just wasn’t that enjoyable. Rebel Wilson was very funny – her self-deprecating sense of humour was perfect for her role, and is comparable to her hilarious performance as Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect. Anne Hathaway, on the other hand, was – frankly – disappointing. She played the straight man, which I understand was needed to set-up some jokes, but she only had one funny line in the entire 90 minute runtime. She was boring and I found myself rooting against her, which – having been presented as a supposed likeable main character – she was actually the complete opposite to how I should have felt.

As I mentioned before, like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, this should have been clever. The cons should have been elaborate heists. Instead, they were obvious and dull. During one scene, Anne and Rebel trick three men out of their money in a scheme called ‘The Lord of the Rings’. This saw Anne woo men into proposing to her, only to find Rebel Wilson’s character pretend to be a crazed, deranged sister, scaring off the male. For the first time, it was comical. Yet, when the pair repeated this scheme twice, we’d seen the gag; they played it out three times in total. That’s like Jerry Seinfeld going on stage and telling the same knock, knock joke thrice in succession. How could you laugh at the third time you’ve heard it?

I was rooting for The Hustle. From the opening, it seemed like it would be a triumph as it stuck it – literally – to the man. Instead, it was very beige, and actually regressive. Some of the finest comedy actors in the world are women – Kate McKinnon is the best thing on SNL right now, and I could literally watch Amy Poehler play Hitler and still laugh – so we don’t need to prove they’re funny by re-writing male characters for them. Just write good, original characters for them. And if you’re going to rewrite them into an all-female remake, at least – for the love of Christ – try to make it funny.

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