THE HUSTLE

Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway star in “The Hustle,” opening in theaters this weekend.

“The Hustle” stars an unlikely pair, Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson, as two polar opposite con artists using their wily ways to take advantage of unsuspecting and filthy rich men.

Teaming up and competing against one another at the same time, they attempt to con their final target, and the loser of the bet must leave. It’s hilarious, yet at the same time it’s as predictable as it is forgettable.

Wilson (Lonnie) gives us exactly what we expect, a demonstratively trashy Aussie who comfortably shares the lead role with Hathaway (Josephine) as the sophisticated heartbreaker with superior intellect.

The opening scenes take us into their world; Lonnie conning young superficial men to pay for “boob jobs” and Hathaway executing elaborate cons with her small team at high end casinos. As the two meet, it certainly isn’t love at first site, but Josephine keeps her friends at a distance and her enemies close. Under Josephine’s tutelage, Lonnie learns the tricks of the trade only to be duped by her mentor.

The premise of the film is nothing new; it’s predictable, actually, all the way to the end. The women tout their keen understanding of men and find great joy in turning the tables on the opposite sex. If only the writers had actually stuck to their guns and not pulled the rug out from under their own feet, perhaps the end wouldn’t have been maddening or disappointing.

That’s not to say the film doesn’t have its strong points. It capitalizes on Wilson’s ability to make people laugh using physical humor and her side note comments. Unfortunately, that seems to be all she’s got up her sleeve, and the film loses energy and pacing because of it.

Casting Hathaway as her opposite makes the humor in the film work, creating hilarious situations that come through just because of their physical and perceived personality differences.

The repetitiveness of the story is what weighs the film down, not allowing Wilson or Hathaway out of the box to shine. You’re never trying to guess what’s going to happen next.

There are no twists and turns that surprise you; it’s like riding a kiddie roller coaster when you were expecting Great America’s Maxx Force. It’s fun, but you’re not going to run home and tell your friends to go.

Additionally, the characters are never fully developed which is, again, no fault of the actors, but of the writers. Lonnie and Josephine maintain the status quo, never changing, never growing and never really connecting with the audience.

Never did I feel the need to root for either character to “win.” Frequently with this type of film, you find the production design and wardrobe knock it out of the park, but even in these departments, mediocrity prevailed. However, I did laugh a lot. Silly laughs, but that’s still fun.

While “The Hustle” is nothing to write home about, it is a chance for total mindless escapism. This film is complete fluff even if it is forgettable by the time you get to the exit doors.

2 stars

A version of this story appeared in the Friday digital edition of the Daily Journal.

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