The new reboot tool that seems to be shaping what gets remade is an all-female version of a popular movie that was at one time all male. I for one love this idea and think it could work on so many levels, but just like any movie, it could also fail miserably. The failure for me often comes down to casting, because when you cast right it can fix so many problems, but when you cast wrong, it can bring about a whole other list of issues. With The Hustle a remake of the 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin, the cast was going to be everything, the only questions is, did they get it right?
Josephine (Anne Hathaway) is a beautiful woman with a gift to play the part and get what she wants out of unsuspecting men. Josephine is a professional grifter and she is on top of her game and is as smooth as it gets, but on the other side of the world you have her opposite in Penny. In Penny’s world she is the bull in the china shop and while she gets what she wants from men she chooses, she is small time compared to Josephine. One day Penny sees a magazine about the rich people’s playground in France and decides she wants to jump in that sandbox as well. When she arrives she meets Josephine and is tricked into abandoning her idea, because Josephine doesn’t want anyone messing with the game she has going. Penny though doesn’t get deterred and soon her and Josephine pick a mark and whoever wins will have this playground for their own. Things don’t always go as planned and sometimes even the best can have the tables turned on them as well.
I was really curious to see how this would turn out, as I have always loved Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, where we get to see two comedic actors at the top of their game, but I left The Hustle feeling disappointed. The story is pretty much the same, with the filmmakers even keeping the twist ending. While the original felt old world, this one feels modern with its soundtrack and choice of humor, but where it really fails is in its casting. Hathaway is perfect and I could watch her all day in this role as it really plays to her strengths as an actor. Wilson though just doesn’t feel right, as her humor style doesn’t seem to fit the story being told. With Hathaway playing the Caine part, there really is no separation with the two, but Wilson is nowhere near Martin’s level and because of that the film suffers. I found myself often just smiling more than laughing, because most of the humor relies on Wilson’s physical comedy, who I am always a fan of in small doses. This could have been better and this has not made me dread any other reboot like this one. I just hope that unlike The Hustle, other storytellers will put the right people in, because for a film like this, it makes or breaks it all.