Those attending this new gender switch on 1988s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will find the comedic talents of Anne Hathaway (Serenity, earlier Get Smart) and Rebel Wilson (“Isn’t It Romantic”) in short supply.
The Hustle has a premise of scamming finding a man’s weakness from a woman’s cleverness. It doesn’t really confirm Hathaway’s French Riviera-based Josephine perspective, especially in how contrived of an enterprise novice Chris Addison’s debut really is.
In cobbling from the cruel wit of the far more successful Steve Martin/Michael Caine pairing the posh Josephine has as a competitor and instructor philistine Australian Penny (Wilson, also a producer). Her on-line ‘catfish’ grifting in the U.S. becomes burdensome that could be intrusive for Josephine until being her associate may make for a lucrative two-woman con game. More sibling rivalry than generational as in the similar machinations of the more recent, early millennium Heartbreakers starring Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt as a mother/daughter team opposite the likes of Gene Hackman and Ray Liotta (not to mention lesser supporting roles by the late Anne Bancroft and Carrie Fisher).
Initially, the marked wealthy chap is from Texas (Dean Norris of Death Wish 2018, Beirut) to be engaged to Josephine only to have ring left behind when introduced to Penny posing as her unhinged sister. An app designer of the order of Mark Zuckerberg played by Alex Sharp turns out to be the big fish for the scheming duo which leads to hostilities when one of them has feelings for the billionaire.
Another distaff turn on characters originated back in the mid-1960s with David Niven and, yes, Marlon Brando, hardly fares as well as the what was done in the case of Ghostbusters or Ocean’s 8 (which co-starred Hathaway on the elegant, if other side of the equation). The story churns in the empowered opportunity to win over the opposite sex with the bling/fashion between the disparate women; their characters weren’t fleshed out in the context of their dynamic (pre-production) that just fizzes in the stolid staging which allows for much posing and wardrobe changes (especially for Hathaway whose been saddled with similar dross when up against Kate Hudson in Bride Wars).
Wilson essentially does a portion of her better Fat Amy from the Pitch Perfect movies even as she has to work a disability to her advantage. Addison just put his game thespians out to have a fun time in their racket, but they’re not the only ones hustled in what clearly is rotten compared to the sadistically funny scoundrels defined by Martin and Caine.