Opening credits are underrated. Whether it’s the eerie, black and red overture we’ve come to expect from James Wan, or the triumphant orchestration at the beginning of an epic like Ben-Hur, opening credits are a thing under-used and always worthwhile. What James Bond or Buena Vista movie would be complete without a song heralding the filmmakers and cast before the show?
Like all of these, MGM’s The Hustle comes to theaters this weekend with some truly fun opening credits that will remind older viewers of the kind of visual jokes that start the Pink Panther films. Similar to those films, the semi-absurd is allowed here, and these opening credits do a great deal of world-building for us – the world of the movie is established as something more hyperbolic than reality, but close enough to it that we can suspend our disbelief (and perhaps our non-criminal moralities) with ease.
A cheery and often silly story about con-artist women and their many plays for cash, The Hustle does more than just make you giggle whenever Anne Hathaway’s Charlotte adopts an over-the top accent, or guffaw each time Rebel Wilson’s Penny chooses crass over class. The movie also sets up character, scenes, and cons in entertaining and clever ways. Words are not wasted on exposition – dialogue is always active, and this movie does good work showing you, not telling, its rules.
I must commend both leading ladies for doing great work in this. I’ve always been a tentative fan of Rebel Wilson – I’ll never be comfortable being in a room full of people laughing at the fat chick falling down. However, Rebel has made a career out of embracing her physicality and the humor therein without shame or caution, and her confidence is always contagious.
Hathaway is also doing well to remind us that her career originated in comedy, and it’s a skill set she wields with ease. In particular, her deliberately over-the-top strut is enough to make you laugh every time you see it. Her affected accent work in this is also lovely.
Perhaps one of the nicer things about the movie is that you can come away from it with a light, but rewarding thoughtfulness. Yes, men who belittle, underestimate, and take advantage of women suck. But also, women who belittle, underestimate, and take advantage of men suck, too. If this film has anything weighty to say, it’s that women and men do their best work when they do it together, whether they’re doing the work of charitable angels, or dirty rotten scoundrels.
When I first heard that a remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was being made, I was a little worried. I loved the movie (yes I know it’s a remake of a Marlon Brando and David Niven movie), and the performances of Steve Martin and Michael Caine aren’t easy to beat.
That being said, this movie did a good job reinventing the movie in a new timeframe with new technology (app money transfers vs checks, millionaire from creating an app vs a heiress). I watched Dirty Rotten Scoundrels a few hours before I saw The Hustle, which in some ways was not a good thing as I knew how certain scenes were going to play out.
The performances of Hathaway and Wilson in the roles that Caine and Martin had in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels were terrific, and the movie was definitely an enjoyable crime-comedy type movie that at 90 minutes or so is the perfect length and doesn’t feel drawn out at all.
The Hustle opens across the US on May 10th.