Movie Review: Hustlers

By David Lee Zamora

Special to the Parade

I saw Hustlers this weekend and found myself incredibly lost. 

How so, you say? Well, this movie isn’t awful, terrible, or even bad, but I wouldn’t say it’s great or good either. It was a fun film that I will, most likely, never want to see again, even if its on TV. This isn’t bad: there are a lot of films I see once and love, but never see again, like most action films or romantic comedies.

Dorothy, a.ka. Destiny (Constance Wu), works as a stripper in New York City, trying to make money to support herself and grandmother. Unable to dance or attract customers, she finds the lifestyle incredibly hard, until befriending Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), the best dancer in the club. Destiny is taken under Ramona’s wing and taught how to hustle New York businessmen out of their money. Together, with other coworkers, they quit strippping, due to the 2008 financial crisis, and start robbing new and previous customers, by drugging them beforehand.

The acting in this film is great. Everyone does a wonderful job, especially Jennifer Lopez, who steals the show. Lopez manages to make Ramona both lovable and disgusting. Her character is a nice person, who takes in the new dancers and shows them the ropes, acting like a big sister to Destiny and most of the other dancers. But as the film goes on, she gets more money hungry and selfish. 

Wu is a little more difficult to judge on her acting. I mean, she played the fish-out-of-water part well and really has some great range, but other than that, her performance wasn’t really memorable to me. This isn’t her fault, though, it’s more on me, mostly because I can’t relate to her, and thus don’t feel for her in many ways.

My biggest gripe with this film is the fact that there’s really no threat. Yeah, they’re drugging people and could possibly kill them, and stealing their clients money is a huge threat to Ramona and Destiny, but I really didn’t get that feeling. When these moments pop up, they’re played for laughs. For example, when one of the client jumps off his roof and goes unconscious, they rush him to the hospital and stop next to a cop at a red light. The client wakes up only to be punched unconscious again by one of the girls. 

This is what confuses me: is it a comedy, a slice of life film, or is it a movie based on a true story? I know it could be all of them at once, but then who’s the fim for then? Even most comedies have a villain or threat to move the plot along. This movie’s plot and threat are weak. This makes me feel nothing for any of the characters, thus making the actors’ great acting kind of meaningless to me.

In all, Hustlers did a good job of entertaining me for a couple of hours and nowadays that’s all I could really ask for in a film, especially one filled with great actors that don’t have much to work with.

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