Anne Hathaway has had a heck of a career so far. She’s an immensely talented award-calibre actress that can pop up in literally anything, from low budget dramas to expensive epics. In theory, appearing in a remake of one of the greatest comedies of all time (1988’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) is a slam dunk. But like a few of the other more recent projects she’s been involved in, The Hustle lacks an overarching follow through.
Films centred around scams or con-artists frequently sprint out of the gate with some of the most intriguing premises and savage twists: The Hustle fails at both of these. There’s a reason for this, as most of the intrigue is completely abandoned in favour of just sidling up to a screwball comedy angle. But when the jokes don’t land, you have a problem.
The issue isn’t necessarily the performances from Rebel Wilson or Hathaway, but the way the characters are handled. It hits the same beats as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Two grifters meet on a train and ultimately, team up in a frenemy fashion. The “Ruprecht” character (an exaggerated foil and “sister” of the prim and proper scammer) is turned into “Hortence” and given to Wilson’s character, who plays the analog of Steve Martin’s fool. But when that’s all playing out on screen it kind of just comes and goes, like a flash flood or a side item meal at Boston Market.