“The Hustle” (M) ** and a half
IN 1964, Marlon Brando and David Niven starred with Shirley Jones in “Bedtime Story”, a comedy about two confidence men preying on wealthy elderly women at a Côte d’Azur resort hotel with the aid of a corrupt police inspector.
In 1988, Steve Martin and Michael Caine starred with Glenn Headley in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, a comedy about two confidence men preying on wealthy elderly women at a Côte d’Azur resort hotel with the aid of a corrupt police inspector.
In 2019, Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson star in “The Hussle”, a comedy about two confidence women preying on wealthy elderly men at a Côte d’Azur resort hotel with the aid of a corrupt police inspector.
An oldie but a goodie. I enjoyed “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” so much on first release that I watched it again on the real screen and yet again on TV. So how does this latest remake stack up?
Hathaway and Wilson know that they’re delivering just a hair’s breadth short of farce. Wilson in particular excels as a rough and tumble Aussie girl and Hathaway knows how to project style in whatever character she is playing.
Version 2019 was directed by Chris Addison to a screenplay for which Stanley Shapiro and others laid the foundations in 1964. Adapting it to gender reversal (apparently the work of Dale Launer) has, in my opinion, weakened the story’s dramatic energy a little. In the war between the sexes, women have more to lose because of fundamental anatomical imperatives which Hathaway and Wilson toil mightily to discount. Fortunately, they succeed only as much as necessary to restrain the classifiers.
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