The Hustle is a gender-swapped remake of the classic 1980s comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (which was already a remake in itself). The story and beats of this film are so close to that of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels that the plot synopsis from my review of that film is nearly the same as the one for this film.
Sophisticated Brit Josephine Chesterfield (Anne Hathaway) has made a career out of conning wealthy men in the French Riviera out of their millions. While taking the train back to Beaumont-Sur-Mer, she witnesses a shlubby Australian hustler, Penny Rust (Rebel Wilson), con a passenger into paying for her dinner by telling him a ridiculous sob story about how her extremely attractive virgin sister had been taken and was going to be auctioned off to wealthy men on a yacht. She was kind of both impressed and horrified by Penny at the same time. When Josephine learns that Penny is headed for Beaumont-Sur-Mer, she is concerned that this unrefined, low-rent hustler is going to mess up the good thing she has going, so she tries to persuade Penny that another destination would be better suited for her skills.
With the help of her partners, cop Brigitte (Ingrid Oliver) and butler Albert (Nicholas Woodeson), Josephine tries several different approaches to get rid of Penny. But after all these attempts fail, Josephine decides to take her under her wing for a new fiancee con, with Penny taking on the role of her mentally challenged sister, Hortense the Feral Princess. While the con is successful, Penny becomes unsatisfied with the pay arrangement and wants to go off on her own. When young, wealthy app developer Thomas Westerburg (Alex Sharp) arrives in town, the two women make a bet—the first to swindle him out of his money will be allowed to stay in Beaumont-Sur-Mer, while the other must head elsewhere. And the competition between the two con artists escalates quite quickly (and humorously).
I was a huge fan of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and had just re-watched it recently when I first saw this film in the theater, so I had a tough time separating myself from the fact that the two films are nearly identical—the characters, story beats, plot twists and comedic moments of these two films are pretty much the same. However, I enjoyed the film a lot more watching this second time around on Blu-ray. This time, I could appreciate the fact that not everyone will have seen/remember the 30-year-old Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and so this won’t feel like a remake to those viewers, but rather a fun, fresh new tale of dueling con women.
Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson have amazing comedic timing and chemistry. Hathaway’s more elegant and refined con artist is a perfect contrast to Wilson’s more wild and unpredictable street hustler, but both actresses find ways to just have fun and go over the top in their roles. Wilson integrates a lot of her physical comedy into her role. This is especially evident when she’s playing the socially inept, feral princess Hortense, whose sole purpose is to scare off the husband-to-be once he’s presented Josephine with an engagement ring. With Hathaway, a lot of her humor comes with the varied accents and personas she portrays. It is quite impressive all of the various accents and foreign languages she speaks. Hathaway is hilarious as the renowned German psychiatrist Dr. Frederika Schaffhausen, who resorts to ridiculous measures to try to “cure” Penny from her hysterical blindness (or at least reveal her as a fraud). As the two women compete to win their bet, Penny and Josephine are constantly throwing unexpected twists at one another—just when one of them thinks she has the upper hand, the other manages to flip the script with some new crazy or ridiculous revelation that the other must integrate into her story. And joining these two is Tony Award winning actor Alex Sharp, who is perfectly cast as the innocent and likable mark—he really holds his own playing against these two major stars.
Universal’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds excellent. The picture is clean, shows a lot of detail, and really showcases the bright, beautiful scenery of the French Riviera. It is also available via 4K via the included iTunes digital copy. While there aren’t any huge effects in this film, the audio track provides clear dialogue and a generally immersive ambiance. It also showcases the film’s delightful score, which helps to establish the timeless, fun and playful mood of the film. The score reminded me of the music used on the TV show Monk.
The Blu-ray release comes packed in standard HD keepcase with a slipcover, and contains an insert with a code to redeem for a 4K iTunes digital copy of the film (it is not Movies Anywhere compatible). Both the Blu-ray and DVD discs contain the same assortment of bonus material, which consists of about 17 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes with the cast and filmmakers, as well as a director commentary track.
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Spanish DTS Digital Surround 5.1, French DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English DVS (Descriptive Video Service)
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
- 480i / Anamorphic Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English DVS (Descriptive Video Service)
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
- 4K digital copy redeemable via iTunes (Not Movies Anywhere compatible)
Even though the film didn’t get a 4K Ultra HD media release, you can still check out the film in its 4K via the Apple TV 4K.
Digital (for redemption deadline, see NBCUcodes.com):
- Hitting the Mark (4:34)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the characters, reimagining Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with a gender switch, and how the change to the women manipulating the men opened up the story. They also talk about having fun on set and working with one another. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with producer/star Rebel Wilson (“Penny Rust”), stars Anne Hathaway (“Josephine Chesterfield”) & Alex Sharp (“Thomas Westerburg”), co-writer Jac Schaeffer, and director Chris Addison.
- Comedy Class (5:50)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the actors’ different approaches to the comedy. They discuss the choice to make Josephine British, and all of the various accents, languages and characters that Anne Hathaway portrays. They also talk about Rebel’s use of improvisation and physical humor. Includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with stars Rebel Wilson, Anne Hathaway & Alex Sharp, co-writer Jac Schaeffer, and director Chris Addison.
- Con Artists (6:31)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the costumes, filming in Majorca, the sets, and working with the director. Includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with stars Anne Hathaway, Ingrid Oliver (“Brigitte Desjardi”), Rebel Wilson, & Alex Sharp, co-writer Jac Schaeffer, and director Chris Addison, and costume designer Emma Fryer.
- Feature Commentary with Director Chris Addison (1:33:57)
The film’s director provides a highly energetic and entertaining commentary throughout the film. He talks about the story, the actors and the sets, provides lots of interesting behind-the-scenes stories about the production, points out Easter eggs, and talks about some of the things that changed over the course of the production. This is one of the most enjoyable commentaries I’ve listened to in a while.
Die hard fans of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels may find this remake to be a bit repetitive, but if they are able to distance themselves from that film, they are in for a treat. Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway make a delightful comedic duo, and play off one another perfectly. They had me constantly laughing out loud, and it’s a wonder how they were able to get through their scenes without constantly cracking up. The gender-swapped version of this story works just as well as the original, and is definitely worth checking out, even if you’ve seen DRS a hundred times. Universal’s Blu-ray release includes a small assortment of behind-the-scenes material as well as a 4K iTunes digital copy of the movie.