“The Hustle”(MGM/United Artists), a painfully unfunny wreck of a comedy that is a remake of 1964’s “Bedtime Story” and 1988’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” with a bit of “Taming of the Shrew” tossed in, raises more questions than it answers.
Isn’t Rebel Wilson tired of doing the same one-note shtick in every movie? Can Rebel Wilson even act? What was Anne Hathaway thinking when she signed onto to do this movie? Was she well paid? Has there ever been a more boring actor cast as a “love interest” than Alex Sharp? Why did it take a team of writers to come up with this drivel? Why didn’t anyone tell them that gay jokes are passé? Since when is blindness a punchline in a joke that goes on far too long?
Penny (Wilson) is the true definition of a bad penny. She keeps showing up and she’s worthless. A low-level scam artist, Penny uses social media hook-up sites and sundry other techniques to grift men. With half a million bucks to her name, she’s doing her best to rise through the ranks in the States.
However, Penny is small potatoes compared to Josephine (Hathaway mangling a British accent). Based in Beaumont Sur Mer on the French Riviera, Josephine, who goes by a variety of pseudonyms, works a different class of men. In cahoots with the local law enforcement, led by Inspector Desjardins (Ingrid Oliver), as well as the staff at upscale hotels (she tips well), Josephine has amassed an impressive fortune and lives in an impressive fortress.
Penny and Josephine meet and, after a series of uncomfortable sequences, decide to combine their talents rather than compete against each other. Groomed for the “lord of the rings” con, in which wealthy men propose to Josephine, giving her massive diamond engagement rings, which they leave behind once introduced to her mentally unstable sister as played by Penny. The pair makes out like bandits, but still rub each other the wrong way.
The final test of their partnership comes when they decide to go after Thomas (Sharp), whom they are told is a young tech billionaire. Their stratagem backfires on several occasions as each woman goes out of her way to sabotage the other. What they don’t realize is that, like Penny and Josephine, Thomas is not necessarily who he says he is and is working his own brand of swindle.
With laughs few and far between, ultimately, it’s the audience who gets hustled the hardest. Don’t do “The Hustle”.
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