Two con artists compete to scam an internet millionaire in The Hustle. Penny (Rebel Wilson) is a low-rent con artist, who has been relatively successful with scamming men through online dating. In the south of France, Penny meets Josephine (Anne Hathaway), who has taken the art of the con to a whole new level. Josephine takes Penny under her wing, hoping she’ll gracefully leave right afterwards. However, when Penny turns out to be quite persistence, Josephine makes a wager with her about who can be the first to scam young internet millionaire Thomas (Alex Sharp) out of $500,000.
The Hustle is a gender-swapping remake 1988’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which itself was based on the 1964 film Bedtime Story. The film casts Anne Hathaway, sporting a British accent, in the role originally played by Michael Caine and Rebel Wilson in the role played by Steve Martin. The Hustle maintains the original film’s French Riviera setting, as Penny and Josephine begin a partnership, and later rivalry, in their game of conning men. Their biggest challenge comes in the form of the sweet and naive Thomas, who has amassed millions through a popular app. This results in Penny using everything she has learned from Josephine, who has to try and remain one step ahead.
Following the lead of 2016’s Ghostbusters and last year’s Ocean’s Eight, it really seems like female-centric reboots are becoming a bit of a trend. However, I will be the first to admit that I do not criticize films based on the genders of the leads. As I have yet to see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in its entirety, I was able to watch The Hustle on its own merits and I do have to say that I found the film to be quite hilarious and entertaining. I found that Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson had quite good chemistry with each other, with Hathaway playing it straight and Wilson doing much of the comedy. While I do admit that I haven’t been the biggest fan of Rebel Wilson throughout her career, I do think that she really does shine in her role she, demonstrating how good she is with both one-liners and physical comedy.
Sadly, we live in a world where many people will not give The Hustle a chance, because it both a remake of a classic 1980s comedy and one that stars women. However, if you ignore this film’s connection to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and just view it as its own film, The Hustle should end up being a very fun and entertaining time at the movies.