"The Hustle" (out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital) is a con artist comedy that's pretty much a beat-for-beat remake of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," except the genders are switched and Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson play updated versions of the characters played by Michael Caine and Steve Martin.
Of course, as we discussed earlier with the 1988 movie's reissue, "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" was a reimagining of the 1964 comedy "Bedtime Story," starring David Niven and Marlon Brando.
"Scoundrels" takes just the rough plot outline of "Bedtime Story," but fans of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" will be able to predict pretty much exactly what happens in every scene as they watch "The Hustle."
This drove critics crazy, and they generally trashed the movie and probably dragged down the box office. That's too bad because the movie's pretty funny.
Hathaway is Josephine Chesterfield, an accomplished con who has the French Riviera town of Beaumont-sur-Mer wired as she separates rich men from their money and jewels. Her perfect setup is endangered when Wilson's low-end grifter Penny Rust stumbles into town and wants Josephine to become her mentor.
They run a series of successful engagement cons but butt heads when Penny wants a bigger cut. They decide that one of them has to leave town and set up a contest: The con who can separate a young tech entrepreneur (Alex Sharp) from $500,000 wins. The bet doesn't go as planned, and things get sticky with their mark.
Director Chris Addison worked as both a writer and director on HBO's "Veep." "The Hustle" doesn't aspire to that comedy's heights of depraved ambition, but Addison knows something about directing a comedy scene.
This is another one of those movie comedies that will likely find a devoted audience once it's on cable and streaming. In the meantime, if you're stuck when making a choice on movie night, this one is a lot funnier than its Rotten Tomatoes score might suggest.