Which is exactly what makes it so enjoyable to watch.
The term ‘popcorn movie’ often gets thrown around with a touch of careless disdain, but really, there’s a special skill and definite art to making a movie that allows you to happily relax your tense shoulders the moment the story kicks into gear and chuckle in the dark for two hours while enjoying a hot buttery snack.
This particular popcorn flick is a remake of the hit 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which starred Steve Martin and Michael Caine, and I’m sure the consensus among many will be that the original, male-led version was so much better than the 2019 offering.
But the truth is that although Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and The Hustle follow very similar story beats and plot twists, the enjoyment of one movie in no way cancels out the other. There’s very much room for both of these offerings in the comedy sphere.
In The Hustle, Anne Hathaway plays Josephine Chesterfield, a ruthless and sophisticated con artist operating in Beaumont-sur-Mer on the French Riviera. Residing in a plush seaside mansion and having the tourist-filled town perfectly wired to her sneaky needs, Josephine spends her days artfully conning men out of everything from large sums of money to decadent jewels.
It’s a pretty sweet system, until she encounters small-time scammer Penny (Rebel Wilson) on a train. At first, she’s quite impressed with the newcomer’s sloppy yet effective cons and tricks, watching as she scores a free five-course meal by making the man beside her believe her virginal sister has been abducted and held for ransom. But her small touch of grudging respect quickly turns to annoyance when Penny also sets up shop in Beaumont-sur-Mer and begins to swindle men out of their belongings.