REVIEW: Don’t let this flick ‘Hustle’ your time or money

When a comedy film isn’t funny, sitting through it can be a major chore. “The Hustle” is one of those movies.

Rebel Wilson plays Penny in “Hustle,” a woman who often runs small-scale scams, hustles and cons in the United States. With people catching on to her actions, though, Penny decides to leave the country and head to Europe to continue her operations.

There, through a chance meeting and a series of events, Penny meets a top class con-artist named Josephine (Anne Hathaway). Not only are the two at different levels in skills, but they’re also on the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of personality. Their differences eventually evolve into a rivalry and they decide to see who can pull off the largest swindle on a rich tech developer named Thomas (Alex Sharp).

The worst part of “Hustle” is that it goes for the lowest hanging fruit in terms of comedy at every single attempt. Most of the dialogue meant to be humorous just comes across as trying too hard, with many jokes feeling out of place or too obvious to really be funny. There’s usually nothing new, unexpected, or even really clever with the script here.

The movie doesn’t just rely on its script, though, it also uses falls as a crutch way too much. Most of the time, it’s just Rebel Wilson falling over, again, and again, and again… and again. It’s not like I’m completely opposed to this kind of humor, but done too much, like it is here, can get exhausting.

It’s too bad, since Wilson has talent, as shown by her performances in the “Pitch Perfect” series and the recent film “Isn’t It Romantic.” But the material was much better.

The problem here is Wilson’s character Penny is written as too much of an aloof, bumbling dimwitted person who can’t seem to get things right. Hathaway’s Josephine, meanwhile, was written to be too uptight, perfect and smart.

In most movies like this, usually in the buddy cop genre, it’s understandable to have a more serious, by-the-books character and another who’s more of a loose cannon and acts more impulsively. But there usually exists more of a balance there, giving both characters good qualities so you can root for them equally.

That wasn’t really the case here, both characters were so far different in the spectrum that neither was really likable or enjoyable in a love-to-hate kind of way. They were both somewhat annoying overall.

The best thing about “The Hustle” is that it only runs for an hour and a half, but it feels longer. Despite featuring two fine lead actresses, this one is a dud. 1.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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