Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson flop hard in an enjoyment-free Dirty Rotten Scoundrels remake that doubles down on rotten.
Seriously missing the memo in a cringe-inducing way, The Hustle takes a perfectly fine premise from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels—two predatory men get played by a savvier woman—and obliterates it by swapping genders and ultimately selling out its feminist credibility. Initially, the thrust of this stridently unfunny and obvious comedy is for Rebel Wilson, playing Lonnie, an uncouth catfisher, to glam up on a par with Anne Hathaway’s elegant con artist Josephine, who ruefully takes the former under her wing in a fake-feeling South of France. So little of this works, it’s frightening: not Hathaway’s unpersuasive posh accent, not Rebel Wilson’s constant flouncing around and falling down (somehow even more coarse than in the Pitch Perfect films). Director Chris Addison, a Veep vet, loses his touch in lowest-common-denominator slapstick.
But you’ve seen bad movies like that before, right? Ones with silly “blind person” humor or toilet jokes or whatever. What you haven’t seen is an ostensibly pro-woman empowerment riff have both its main characters get played by their mark, a sweet tech billionaire (Alex Sharp) who even the slowest audience member will know is not what he seems to be. Are we supposed to thrill to how dumb these women are? Actual laughs would have gone a distance, but even still, The Hustle would forever serve as incontrovertible evidence that flipping the script to create opportunities for women can sometimes result in the creation of an accidental Pandora’s box, unleashing career-worst performances, undercutting noble intent and tarnishing all involved. Someone definitely got hustled here; don’t let it be you.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf
Cast and crew
Tim Blake Nelson