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The Hustle: Slapstick Comedy revels in silliness and bad accents

May 13, 2019

Film + EntertainmentReview | by Candid Magazine

Déjà vu abounds in this remake of the 1981 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, this time starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson as a pair of con artists who battle for territory in the south of France. Hathaway plays Josephine, a supposedly high-class con artist, with a strong cut-glass English accent that is almost insulting, whilst Wilson plays up to the dumb blonde stereotype as Lonnie. The pair pull cons, make gags and insulting each other throughout, but its the silliness and brashness of The Hustle that wins you over; sometimes a film is so bad, it’s good.

The film begins with Lonnie hustling shallow unsympathetic men, by catfishing them with a picture of another woman. We then witness their uncomfortbale shock when they see Lonnie instead. This signalling to her size is rather harsh and cruel, nevertheless Wilson owns it by playing this in her favour. The trope of men behaving perversely when the prospect of sex is dangled in front of them is used as a distraction to empty their wallets by both Lonnie and Josephine. Any sympathy for their victims is immediately eschewed. 

Anne Hathaway stars as Josephine Chesterfield and Rebel Wilson as Penny Rust in THE HUSTLE, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film.Credit: Christian Black / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures© 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Josephine agrees to take Lonnie under her wing in the hopes she will be able to leave her in peace. When that doesn’t work, the pair make a wager to see who can be the first to deceive tech millionaire Thomas (Alex Sharp) out of $500,000. All the elaborate plotting and schemeing elevates the con to the ridiculous, inadvertently encouraging you to laugh at the film rather than with it. All the genuinely funny moments derive from where Hatthaway and Wilson share the screen, offering us pure slapstick comedy, for which no bad accent is needed.

The Hustle will undoubtedly lift your spirits and make you laugh, which is ultimately the goal for every comedy, despite its delivery being a side-effect rather than the modus operandi. Revelling in the silliness of bad accents, theatrical over-acting, complicated cons and slapstick comedy, bringing the film all the laughs it needs. 

The Hustle is out now.

Words by Sunny Ramgolam @SunnyRamgolam.

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