A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Messages are mixed. At times, movie gets painfully to the heart of female dilemmas like the anger Penny feels over being dismissed by men for her weight. But at others, it mocks the characters' problems: Penny is constantly stumbling over things and being rejected by men. There are jokes at the expense of marginalized groups. But women may appreciate some jokes that skewer misogynist clichés: "You must save your beautiful sister before she is defiled!" says a man to Penny. "Yeah, because once she's defiled, she's less special," she says back.
Positive Role Models
Penny and Josephine are smart women who realize their worth despite being underestimated, particularly by men. Unfortunately, the way they level the playing field is by deception and stealing. Also, jokes involve mocking the marginalized: In one subplot, a character pretends to be blind; in another, she appears to be developmentally disabled or mentally ill. Both are true to the film that this one is based on, but they seem uglier today than in the '80s.
Violence & Scariness
A few pratfalls -- like when Penny pretends to fall over and then has a heavy vase fall on her -- look like they might result in broken bones in real life.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One character has a love interest, but the romance is mostly offscreen, other than a brief kiss. A woman talks at length about a made-up friend's breasts and why she needs breast implants. A woman propositions a man in an airplane bathroom; he refuses, but then it appears as though they actually go through with it (viewers see a shot of the plane having turbulent movement, presumably from the movements of the couple in the bathroom). Some jokes have a sexual edge: A woman is called a "c--k tease," and a man tells a woman there's "another way" she can pay a debt, placing his hand on her thigh repeatedly.
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Language is infrequent but includes "f--k," "f---ing," "s--t," "bitch," "c--k," "d--k," "a--hole," "t-ts," "goddamn" (including once in subtitles as "goddam"), "wanker," "slut," "oh my God." A character signs "Eat s--t and die."
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Products & Purchases
Josephine and Penny talk a lot about how much money they've stolen, clearly competing over the dollar amount.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink champagne, wine, and cocktails at bars and dinners; no one acts drunk. Minor characters smoke a pipe and e-cigarette.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Hustle is a remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (itself a remake of 1964's Bedtime Story) and stars two women (Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson) as dueling scam artists. Gender-flipping the cast helps this version avoid the misogynistic tilt of Scoundrels (in which men were fleecing vulnerable women), and the women's larceny even has an emotional peg: One of them admits she's conning men as revenge for being rejected. But it's worth noting that thieves are basically made sympathetic here, and it's clear that they're unrepentant. Jokes are made at the expense of fat people, blind people, and people with developmental disabilities and/or mental illness. Sex and violence are minimal; there are a few brief kisses, a woman propositions a man for sex in an airline bathroom (and then viewers see the plane jiggling in the air due to the "turbulence"), and a woman stages a cartoonish would-be seduction scene. And a few of the movie's pratfalls seem like they'd really hurt in real life. Minor characters smoke (pipe and e-cigarette). Language is infrequent, but expect to hear "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," and more. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
For a brief shining moment, this movie looks like that rarest of beasts -- a film that's both progressive and hilariously funny -- but that moment passes. Instead, even though this gender-flipped remake starts with a premise that's positively inspired -- that women make better con artists because men are reluctant to believe that women could be smarter than them -- it degenerates into two tired clichés: women competing with one another, and endless fat jokes. Of course, the final competition is baked into The Hustle's source material; Steve Martin and Michael Caine did likewise, as did David Niven and Marlon Brando before them. But given the chemistry between Hathaway and Wilson and how infrequently audiences get to see smart women teaming up instead of tearing each other apart, a plotline tweak that brought the pair together would have been more joyful to watch.
And then there are the fat jokes, which range from numbingly tiresome (Wilson's many "I'm sooooo clumsy!" pratfalls) to actually cruel (like a scene in the beginning of the movie in which a man who expects to meet a "hot," thin girl is visibly and audibly horrified when Wilson arrives). A scene near the end illustrates how things could have gone differently (and better!) in this movie, when Wilson says that she never really decides to take a man's money until he's unkind or dismissive of her because of her looks. Her con games are, at heart, a form of revenge for being told she's unworthy by men. The filmmakers had the sensitivity to come up with that, yet they also make Wilson stumble over ledges and stairs and pommel horses, order enough food at dinner for three people, proposition a man who seems incredulous at the offer (and responds with "I have standards"). What a pity. It is nice that Wilson, not Hathaway, winds up with a love interest, but with the romance taking place almost entirely offscreen, it's not nearly as satisfying as it could be -- which unfortunately turns out to be a pretty good description of this movie, despite the many jokes that actually land.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.