“The Hustle” is a movie. It is not a comedy. Comedies make you laugh.
It is merely a movie and a very bad one at that. It must be one of the worst that 2019 will produce.
It’s not funny. It makes no sense, and it doesn’t seem to care.
“The Hustle” is trash. This story has been recycled more than once, and this time it must be sent to the incinerator.
It is supposed to be a con-woman comedy remake, with a gender-swap of Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson portraying roles played by Michael Caine and Steve Martin, respectively, in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”
That 1988 flick was not a classic by any means, but it had its moments, which is about what can be said of 1964’s “Bedtime Story,” which originated this scam-artist plot.
The concept is funny, and you can see why people keep trying to get it right — or very wrong as the case may be.
A pair of con-artists bump into each other in a lush Mediterranean port city. One is a high-class, high-roller type (Hathaway) living a wealthy and comfortable life; the other (Wilson) is a small-change operator who wants to learn and to live that kind of existence.
A third person, a high-dollar “mark” (newcomer Alex Sharp plays a young tech-millionaire), enters the picture and a competition ensues: Whoever scams him first wins; the loser leaves town.
The Hathaway character has always been the gorgeously attired one, and make no mistake: Her clothes, along with the Anne Dudley soundtrack music and the gorgeous locales of Majorca, Spain, are the only joys.
“The Hustle” is a con job alright, but moviegoers are more likely to feel as though they’ve been mugged than swindled.
If you’ve seen either of the first two movies, you’ve essentially seen this one, because the plot structure is unchanged. What little jokes might have made you laugh have been included in the trailers and commercials for the last month.
Wilson plays the most annoying woman imagineable, or essentially the same character from her “Pitch Perfect” films.
She goes so over-the-top beyond the rough-around-the-edges outline for the character that it goes beyond believability, as expected.
But Wilson even goes beyond the idea of camping it up and proves this to be a classic case of miscasting: A con artist will require some subtlety at some point to fool people, and she’s nothing but a bull in a china closet.
Hathaway and Wilson have zero chemistry together.
What minor contributions to the original script have been made either don’t make you laugh (PG-13 sex-talk on overdrive, with STDs the height of comedy) or are confusing.
Hathaway’s character is a lesbian. I think. There’s a female law enforcement figure who helps with her scams, and who might be living with her, but they don’t share any endearments, so it’s as clear as mud.
In the third act, Wilson’s character is supposed to become a compassionate person, and she doesn’t have the skill to pull off that transformation.
The best joke in the movie comes at the conclusion, when it seems to leave the door open for a sequel.
Now that’s funny.
* * *
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp, Ingrid Oliver, Dean Norris
Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (crude sexual content, language)
Quality: 1 STAR (4 stars = one of the year's best films; 3 stars = good movie; 2 stars = there are better movies out there; 1 star = nothing to see here)