★☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

It’s quite rare – impressive even – for a film to have zero redeeming qualities. But The Hustle, Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson’s slapstick new caper comedy, just about manages it.

It’s a gender swap reworking of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, an old school 1988 Michael Caine number. Hathaway and Wilson play two con artists (one glamorous and classy, the other clumsy and bumbling) who snog, spin, slide and swindle their way around various hapless men.

The premise sounds great on paper, particularly with the talent of two actors known for their bright-eyed energy and accomplished comedic timing. It should have worked. It should have been added to the God tier of still all-too-rare brilliant female-led gross out comedies (Bridesmaids, Girls Trip). But no. Sadly, it’s…well, it’s just crap. 

Women using their wiles to scam and take advantage of men could have taken on a brilliantly camp, post-MeToo era sheen – and its puerility could have been a defiant middle finger up to the Hollywood trope of women being sexy and mysterious. What happened instead was a painfully unfunny, utterly uninspiring 90 minutes of cinema.  

Something that became apparent very quickly, was how dated the humour was. Where the four screenwriters (three of them men) have been for the last decade is a mystery. Evidently none of them are on Twitter.

The moment that stands out the most uncomfortably is the half hour – yes, HALF HOUR – that’s spent making fun of blind people. Rebel Wilson pretends to be blind while Anne Hathaway trips her over. There’s no particular allegory or point to it either. That’s literally it. That’s the joke.

They also use being gay as a punchline THREE TIMES. In one, a man mentions he has a boyfriend, and there’s a gap in the dialogue, presumably to leave room for audience laughter – the whole cinema screen sat in silence, perplexed. There’s another of these gaps (again greeted with silence) when Anne Hathaway’s character mentions a town ‘full of lesbians’.

Those sort of jokes flew in 1999, even in 2009, but now they’re totally obsolete. It’s not that they’re even particularly homophobic. They’re just…not relevant. Some of the younger people in the audience literally didn’t understand what was going on.

The film trundles on painfully, through training montages, making fun of people with anxiety, fat jokes, Rebel Wilson falling over, fat jokes, Rebel Wilson falling over again, until a bizarre ending in a version of London that looks suspiciously like Croatia.

Then comes the final nail in a coffin already bristling with nails; its one redeeming quality was its (albeit tenuous) link to female empowerment. But that’s dashed into the azure waves of the Thames (?!) when a twist reveals a man has been behind things, and in charge, all along.

We’ve given The Hustle one star rather than zero because Anne Hathaway’s British accent sounds a bit like Elizabeth Hurley and we love Elizabeth Hurley. Also because one possible situation where this film could be vaguely enjoyable is if you’re pissed. Like, ABSOLUTELY pissed on cheap rosé. Or it could be one for a hungover afternoon, crying into a pizza. Other than that, don’t bother. Honestly don’t.

The Hustle is out now.



The post FILM REVIEW: The Hustle appeared first on QX Magazine.


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