The Hustle

Movie review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
The Hustle Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Fat jokes and clichés in so-so gender-flipped remake.
  • PG-13
  • 2019
  • 94 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 13 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

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. 

Sex

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. 

Language

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."

Consumerism

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. 

What 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. Language is infrequent, but expect to hear "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," and more.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byMama_S May 31, 2019

Funny movie with over-the-top scams

I took my 15 y.o. & 11 y.o. to see this movie and they both loved it. Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway are two very funny actresses who portray strong, sm... Continue reading
Parent Written byMegan N. August 24, 2019

A lot of sexual humor

I read some reviews on common sense and decided this seemed ok to watch with my 12 year old daughter....but I should have read more reviews!! There is pretty mu... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byJugheadJones101 January 4, 2020

Dont Bother

This film sucks like actual hell. The age rating on Netflix is 12 but the film is like 15 there's so much inappropriate content and jokes and referring to... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bycharlottegrande May 21, 2019

Pretty good :)

I wasn't amazed by this movie but it was pretty funny. I think its a great comedy to watch with a family. There is swearing and use of money and stuff but... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE HUSTLE is a gender-swapped take on 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (itself a remake of 1964's Bedtime Story) starring Rebel Wilson as Penny, a low-level grifter who suddenly sees how much money she could be pulling in when she has a chance encounter with Josephine (Anne Hathaway), a multimillionaire con artist who pulls big scams from her estate in the south of France. Josephine wants Penny gone, so the two of them make a wager: The first one to get $500K out of a sensitive, Zuckerberg-ish tech millionaire (Alex Sharp) wins, while the other has to leave town for good. But when the hustlers become the hustled, it's clear that these women aren't quite as tricky as they think they are.  

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. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether The Hustle is a successful remake. How do you think this film compares to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? What would you like to see happen in any possible sequels?

  • Would you call this film "feminist"? Why or why not? Are any of the characters role models?

  • Does it make a difference that the main characters are women this time around? Why or why not? How does that affect the story (if it does)?

  • How did you feel about the jokes at the expense of marginalized groups? Is that OK? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love strong female characters

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