last update: May 18, 2019, 2 a.m.
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp, Ingrid Oliver
Director: Chris Addison
Director Chris Addison's gender-swapped remake of the 1988 Michael Caine-Steve Martin comedy "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," (which in turn was a remake of the 1964 David Niven-Marlon Brando comedy "Bedtime Story") is more likely to get you depressed than make you laugh. It is meant to be funny but it's not.
Josephine Chesterfield(Anne Hathaway) has conned rich posh fools with absolute impunity thanks to a police inspector (Ingrid Oliver), who protects her for a price. Penny Rust (Rebel Wilson) on the other hand, plays low stakes cons on unsuspecting ordinary folk. They bump into each other and both realise the value of teaming up to pull off a really big con – but they still don't trust each other enough or do they?
Penny, on realising the extent of Josephine's extraordinary wealth insists on staying and learning from the master. They devise a competition to con an unsuspecting tech billionaire Thomas Westerburg (Alex Sharp) out of $500,000. Whoever wins gets to stay in the fictitious French Riviera town of Beaumont-sur-Mer with ample opportunity to swindle tourists and gamblers out of their millions.
The two lead characters say they con the opposite sex to get back at the men who've exploited women for far too long but nothing in the film suggests they have a hidden dramatic vein pushing them towards such well calculated vengeance. In fact there's no real drama here – just a lot of verbose positioning that fails to curry favour.
Hathaway puts on her faux act with a series of clingy dresses and fake accents while Wilson continues her stand-up routine with pratfalls and deadpan. Neither Hathaway nor Wilson are able to bridge the huge gap that the unaccomplished, dim, patronizing writing exposes them to. The silly antics, the one upmanship, the gamey competitiveness - isn't enough for the actresses to strike sparks off each other and create a conflagration of engagement.
The lack of chemistry between the two makes this experience tedious and exacting to say the least. The lack of a well-developed plot (script credited to Jac Schaeffer as well as Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning and Dale Launer, who wrote the original material) might not have mattered much if the two lead actresses had managed to play off each other with well-timed asides. The jokes fall flat and there's no real pick-up in the lackluster narrative. This one is rather unlikely to get off the starter blocks at the Box office!
Watch The Hustle Trailer