American Hustle

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
American Hustle Movie Poster Image
Mesmerizing mature drama with just a bit of sex, violence.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 138 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 21 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Even among thieves and con artists, loyalty is a must. Also, love can sometimes be the only way out of a really big mess.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Irving isn't a pillar of decency by any stretch of the imagination, but he does have standards and approaches his line of work with zeal and respect. Also, he truly loves his step-son and makes sacrifices for him. Sydney is lost, sometimes sad, but bold and hardworking, and truly loves Irving, even though he's married to someone else. Sydney is a force to be reckoned with, mistress of her fate. She and Irving have an equal relationship.

Violence

This is not a violence-packed movie, but there are a few key moments of brutality. A man shoots someone at point blank (it's a brief but visceral scene). A woman finds herself hitting a man hard with a picture frame after he refuses to stop making advances toward her. A man beats a co-worker with a phone; again, it's brief, but long enough for us to get a sense of the moment's brutality.

Sex

A woman's wardrobe consists almost entirely of plunging necklines that show off her cleavage. A man and a woman go into a bathroom stall, and he's shown lifting up her skirt and making out with her while they discuss whether to have sex or not. Another couple is shown kissing passionately, and it's suggested that they sleep together, though we don't see any explicit sexual activity.

Language

Swear words galore, including "ass," "s--t," "son-of-a-bitch," bulls--t," and "motherf--ker."

Consumerism

Some old-school brands, including Pimm's, Chase, Skippy, Cheez Whiz, and New York's Plaza Hotel.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Brief scenes showing adults snorting coke and smoking weed. Lots of social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that American Hustle is an intoxicating, brilliant -- but mature -- drama that will leave viewers breathless with its audacity and streak of humor. There's not a ton of violence or sexual activity, but the themes are intense and adult (reinvention, one-upsmanship, overarching ambition infidelity, an unhappy marriage). The movie also includes brief scenes of drug use and loads of swearing including multiple instances of "f--k." 

User Reviews

Parent Written byLookingTo December 15, 2013

Some Language

It's really just the language, with some minor sexuality, but otherwise, I think this is a mild R-rating. If your child is mature enough to recognize the... Continue reading
Parent Written byImjustsaying December 27, 2013

Good movie, kind of talky and slow at times, great cast to watch and music is the best!!!!

Ok, good movie, a bit slow and talky but kind of fun to watch Amy, Jennifer, Christian and Bradley. A lot of sexy shots of Amy with no bra in clothes, a sex sce... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byThe Cheap Seats January 5, 2014

Everyone Hustles to Survive

A bold, brilliant film that is also wildly entertaining. There's just a little bit of sex and violence but the language is pervasive and the f-word is used... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byjm97 December 26, 2013

David O. Russell hits the nail on the head.

I have been waiting for this film to come out for almost a year, and let me tell you, IT WAS WORTH IT. This was one of the best, if not THE best, films I have e... Continue reading

What's the story?

Inspired by the real-life story of a con artist who is compelled by the FBI to help snag bigger fish in a criminal pond, director David O. Russell's AMERICAN HUSTLE finds Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), a small-time hustler and dry cleaning store owner, taking his game to another level when he meets, teams up with, and falls for Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), a formidably smart stripper who helps to refine their scams. But when an ambitious FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) ensnares them, the only way out for Irving and Sydney is to set up a bigger con that would lead to a more valuable prize: a well-meaning but corrupt politician (Jeremy Renner) and a mob boss (Robert De Niro). Complicating matters is Irving's interesting, charming, but bizarrely eccentric wife (Jennifer Lawrence), whom Irving cares for but doesn't want to live with anymore. His step-son is the main reason he's sticking around. But if he and Sydney don't reel in the bigger marks, they're done.

Is it any good?

American Hustle immerses you in its pounding intensity from the very beginning, and it only accelerates from there. The moment we see Christian Bale's paunchy swindler create his intricate comb-over, we know we're in Wonderland territory. Nothing will be as it seems. And what comes next is a joy of non-linear storytelling, conjuring a world that still seems familiar despite being set decades ago. It's bold and operatic and unafraid. The ensemble is fantastic, led by Bale who leaves any vanity at the door to churn out a performance filled with layers. He's criminal and loving and admirable, even in the worst circumstances. Adams is stunning -- there's no other character like her Sydney. You root for them both, as well as Irving's nutty wife, and the politician, Mayor Carmine Pollito, who gets caught in the dragnet.

Just when you think the movie can't get any better, American Hustle pulls another brilliant sleight of hand, sending the plot careening in a new mind-bending direction. You'll find yourself holding your breath often, and not because the characters are pulling some feat-of-physicality stunt. The subjects are grand and complicated, and the story has the makings of a classic heist film. But, at the heart of it all -- and this is what makes it so memorable and insightful -- is a quest for love and partnership.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes this movie unique. Have you seen other movies with similar styles or themes? What sets this one apart? What do you know about how the director works?

  • What makes a movie better for mature viewers -- sexual or violent content or adult-oriented themes? What kinds of movies should teens not see?

Movie details

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