Hustlers

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Hustlers Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
J. Lo crime comedy glamorizes stripping; language, drugs.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 107 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 13 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

This is a cautionary tale about unexpected predators and the slippery slope of compromising your ethics. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are a diverse group -- in terms of race, body type, sexual identity, and more -- but strippers aren't typically role models/aspirational figures.

Violence

An unconscious, bleeding man is injured off-camera and comically gets re-injured. A couple argues in front of their toddler. Male targets/victims are drugged.

Sex

Frequent partial nudity including bare breasts and barely covered backsides. Extensive visual modeling of "sexy" behavior, including teaching techniques for pole and lap dancing. Women dance sensually, sometimes undressing each other as they perform for men. A scene shows how a character decides to engage in a sex act for money and feels degraded afterward. Sex toy shown on-screen. Women use their sexuality as bait. Full-frontal male nudity used for humor. References to prostitution.

Language

Frequent strong language includes "bitch," "c--k," "f--k," "goddamn," "p---y," "d--k," "t--ties," "ass," and "s--t." Crass sexual language. The "N" word.

Consumerism

Money is literally thrown in the air (sometimes by celebrities) and women are showered in it. Materialism is promoted, with characters buying fur coats, fancy cars (Cadillac Escalade is treated as the ideal luxury vehicle), and designer clothes (Gucci, Christian Laboutin, Bebe, Juicy) with their ill-gotten money.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Repeated demonstrations of how to drug a target, as well as cooking methods to create the drugs used. Cocaine use and alcohol are shown as pathways to a good time -- but also as things that cloud good judgment. Champagne flows to celebrate, and wine is sipped to secure friendships. Cigarette smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that greed is portrayed as good in Hustlers, which mixes themes of female empowerment and friendship with criminal, unethical behavior. It feels like the other side of The Wolf of Wall Street, focusing on New York strippers who manipulated and conned their stockbroker clients to the point of outright stealing. Thanks to the presence of aspirational celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Cardi B, Lizzo, and Keke Palmer, stripping comes across as the key to a glamorous life, in which women can get rich quick by using their sexuality as a weapon. Most of the men they scam are shown as sleazy, leering, gross, and corrupt, which suggests justification for the women's behavior. Yes, it's lots of fun and features a notably diverse cast, but it's also very mature: Expect drug and alcohol use/abuse, strong language ("f--k," "s--t," etc.), and sexual content -- including nudity, pole/lap dancing, prostitution, and more.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byD D September 14, 2019

Another inconsistent review...

This film was given a 16 age recommendation by the reviewer even though it contained a fully nude man with his genitals exposed. The reviewer seems to justify t... Continue reading
Adult Written byJudyAnnJ September 13, 2019

Not for children

I would never allow my children to watch this movie.
Teen, 14 years old Written byindigo_james September 12, 2019

Best movie ever!

This is one of my favourite movies ever! It has such an amazing cast (in my opinion, mainly Lili Reinhart, Cardi B, and Lizzo), and I would recommend it for any... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byJavierG06 September 29, 2019

Strippers (2019)

Very Adultly and lots of things that kids can't handle. The Main Cast really hooks you in for a short ride. Lili Reinhart does not remind you of her River... Continue reading

What's the story?

HUSTLERS is a crime comedy based on a New York Magazine article. It focuses on single mom Destiny (Constance Wu) and her mentor, Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), who are high-end strippers at a club in New York City. It's not necessarily what they aspired to, but they have responsibilities (kids, an aging grandmother, etc.). After the 2008 economic crash cripples their legal income streams, they and their colleagues come up with a series of scams to steal money and credit cards from their wealthy Wall Street clients. Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, and Lili Reinhart -- as well as singers Cardi B, Lizzo, and Usher -- also star. 

Is it any good?

Chris Rock famously said that "a father has one job: to keep their daughter off the pole"; this movie could make that job a lot tougher. Lopez may do more in Hustlers to make stripping look appealing than Howard Stern did with porn actresses. Every move she makes is charged with self-confidence, sexual empowerment, and superior awesomeness -- and that's problematic for teens. She may be "Ramona," but she's also Jenny from the Block, and when she writhes on stage, showered and rolling in dollar bills, stripping becomes -- as Wu's Destiny describes it -- "glamorous and cool."

It may be that director Lorene Scafaria is too good at her job, creating enviable fun and feminist justice out of criminal acts. She knows how to push our buttons when it comes to craving female friendships, a feeling that's intensified by the inclusion of popular music personalities (like lovable Lizzo and outspoken Cardi B, who's confessed to participating in a similar scam when she worked as a stripper). The friendships between the women and their stage "mom" (it's been too long, Mercedes Ruehl!) in the club's back room are as warm as Ramona's fur coat, and the sisterhood they form seems more emotionally satisfying than any sorority. As an audience member, you know that the female empowerment isn't exactly on the level, and yet it demonstrates something many of us long for: a large group of friends who are affectionate, supportive, and judgment-free. But most of the women are also ethics-free, and as their activities dive deeper into behavior that's immoral and illegal, they find justifications that will hold water with some of those watching. Hustlers may be the #MeToo generation's Fatal Attraction: a cautionary tale that corruption has consequences -- just not for the women.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Hustlers portrays exotic dancers. Do you think it makes the job look fun/cool? How does the director remove the shame from stripping -- and do you think it's fair that society has traditionally looked down on women who do that for a living? What do you think are the real-life perils of the job?

  • How are drinking, drug use, and smoking portrayed in the film? Are they glamorized? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

  • As female empowerment has gained traction in society, so have films that show women as smart, savvy criminals -- such as Ocean's 8, Widows, and The Kitchen. What do you think of that trend?

  • Do the consequences (or lack thereof) that the women face for their criminal acts seem fair? The film questions whether the women's victims are worthy of our sympathy -- what do you think? Are they vigilantes, survivalists, or greedy criminals?

  • Why is it important to see diverse characters and role models in the media?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and strong female characters

Themes & Topics

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