Geek Review: The Hustle

Is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels a beloved enough movie to make a remake of it seem like a bad idea?  I don’t think so.  It was itself something of a remake, and while not a bad movie, I don’t think Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is something that feels untouchable.

So, sure, why not a gender-flipped remake with Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson?

Penny Rust (Wilson) is a somewhat small-time con artist who decides, on the spur of the moment, to ply her trade of stealing money from men in the French Rivera.  However, there is already a rather well-off grifter there, one Josephine Chesterfield (Hathaway).  After Josephine sees Penny probably isn’t going anywhere, she agrees to train the crasser Australian in the art of the con.  But is there enough room for both of them in this town full of wealthy men?

The movie starts off promisingly enough.  The various men (and it’s only men) that Josephine and Penny target all seem to deserve what they get, and there is a nice theme to the movie, at first, suggesting the two women are only striking back at deserving men who don’t see how a woman could be smarter or more capable than themselves, but also perhaps that most men do deserve it because they are misogynist idiots who devalue all the women they meet.  It seems like a fresh way to retell the story.  But then at some point, as Wilson’s riffing starts to get old, the movie seems to very directly copy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, even taking a joke or two directly from the original.  Whatever promise the new version might have had is gone as it recycles instead of recreates.  As such, I saw pretty much everything coming after a certain point as the script got lazier, and that didn’t work for me.  Maybe this would work better for someone who never saw the Michael Caine-Steve Martin previous movie, but as someone who has, I saw too much coming before it happened.  7 out of 10 deserving victims.

Oh, there is a post-credits scene, but it plays out as an extended version of a scam the women played earlier, and it just feels too long.  That says a lot about a movie that barely runs over an hour and a half.


Defender of the faith, contributing writer, debonair man-about-town.

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