Hustlers Movie Review: J-Lo And Constance Wu Dazzle In Sleeper Hit

Strip clubs and Wall Street are different worlds, but the two converge in the movie Hustlers. The crime flick starring Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez is much more compelling than a glance at a movie trailer would indicate. It is a smart, compact film with dynamic leads and a unique premise.

Constance Wu stars as Dorothy, aka Destiny, a stripper struggling to make ends meet as she adapts to a new club. She worships veteran dancer Ramona Vega, played marvelously by Jennifer Lopez. Ramona teaches Destiny the arts of seduction and extortion and concocts schemes to rob Wall Street high rollers.

The True Story of Hustlers 

Dorothy’s interview with a nondescript journalist (Julia Stiles) threads different aspects of the film together. The Hustlers story is based on a 2015 Jessica Pressler article from The Cut. Strippers Roselyn Keo and Samantha Barbash worked at Scores in New York City, a strip club where Wall Street wasted insane money after a day of trading. In the Pressler article, Keo describes a Guggenheim Partners employee who dropped $300,000 at Scores in one week.

After the 2008 collapse, Foxx concocted a scheme that made up for dwindling numbers at Scores by drugging high-end targets and running up credit card bills. The evening was enabled by a knockout blow of MDMA and ketamine that made the bankers easy victims. The scheme was immoral, illegal, and one heck of a premise for a movie.

Hustlers Movie Review

The movie spends little time on the background of their crew, which includes pop stars like Lizzo and Cardi B. Hustlers cuts to the chase as different layers of the scheme unfurl. There are not complex layers to Hustlers, which places tremendous attention on its leads to make the film entertaining.

Constance Wu holds her own as Destiny. While her Fresh Off The Boat character is not exactly Mrs. Brady, her performance in Hustlers makes you rethink her uptight role on the ABC family sitcom.

Jennifer Lopez is the epicenter of Hustlers. Her first scene shows her pole dancing to Fiona Apple’s “Criminal,” one of several well-chosen songs on the Hustlers soundtrack. It is a surprising and bold introduction to the principle character. Aside from the dancing, it is hard to take your eyes off Lopez as she takes over as a schemer, mentor, and mastermind to become Robin Hood in fishnets.

The confidence and mastery of her performance should earn Jennifer Lopez a Best Supporting Actress nomination during Oscar season.

Hustlers is the second movie from Gloria Sanchez Productions, a production company associated with Adam McKay and Will Ferrell. It is the third successful Gloria Sanchez production to be released this year alongside Booksmart and Dead To Me. Hustlers is not the film associated with McKay that tackles Wall Street and corporate greed, although Vice and The Big Short confront the subjects more explicitly.

Hustlers tries to use the 2008 financial collapse as justification for robbing wolves in suits. It does not completely validate the group’s actions, but it softens the blow like the Ocean’s trilogy. Sure, everything about their schemes is wrong. The Wall Street guys are just like the casinos in Ocean’s 11 and 13. Audience sympathy only goes so far for sleazebags with fat wallets. Watching them get ripped off provides a measure of satisfaction, even if you know it is flat out wrong.

Hustlers – Final Recap And Box Office Numbers

Through two weeks Hustlers has raked in over $80 million domestic. It is just the eighth R-rated film to crack that mark in 2019. In addition to the possibility of awards accolades, the film is a big commercial hit for Jennifer Lopez. According to Box Office Mojo, Hustlers will finish as one of her top adjusted-gross films (possibly top five if you discount her voiceover work). This is also Wu’s second straight year with a box office hit. In 2018 Wu was the lead in the comedy Crazy Rich Asians

Hustlers is funny when it needs to be funny. The story maintains a steady level of entertainment. Given the overall premise of the film, Hustlers was primed to be an okay movie. Watching Jennifer Lopez own every second and a fluid story have turned Hustlers into a sleeper hit with long-term word-of-mouth potential.

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