Dir; Lorene Scafaria. Starring; Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Style. R. Color. 110 minutes.
I am going to preface my review by saying that I am taking a different strategy. This will not be for the conservative crowd. There will be harsh language which is totally fitting for this particular film. So if you are uncomfortable with that stop reading now. If this review offends you then I guarantee this is not a film for you.
Where the fuck did this movie come from? I thought “Hustlers” was going to be the girl version of “Magic Mike”. Yep there’s plenty of spank bank moments of JLO and the rest of the cast just like “Magic Mike” was for women watching guys rocking six packs. The difference? “Hustlers” is honest as hell. The grey area between who is and is not good is beautifully portrayed on a multitude of different levels.
Constance Wu (the “Crazy Rich Asians” actress) stars as Destiny, a person many of us can relate to. No, not a stripper, a person that is constantly being used by assholes. Her story is contextualized as she confesses to a reporter named Elizabeth (Julia Stiles), who is doing a piece centered around four strippers that ripped off insanely wealthy Wall Street stock brokers in the 2000’s by using their credit cards and eventually got caught.
How did they out hustle the ultimate hustlers? A woman by the name of Ramona (Jennifer Lopez). She is the Lebron James of strippers in America’s biggest city. The new girl Destiny is in awe seeing her preform for the first time. Ramona sees Destiny and instantly sees opportunity. The first thing Ramona says to Destiny is “You’re new, you’re young, you’re beautiful, and you’re Asian. It’s the total package.”
One factor “Hustlers” hits on perfectly is self-reflection. A scene when Usher, yes the Usher, comes in to the club with his crew of flunkies and starts throwing bills all over ‘bitches’ titties is exactly how I’m sure he has done on multiple occasions. Good on him for being willing to do that scene because it makes him look like a dick, and I’m sure he knew it when they were filming the scene. While I don’t have Benjamins I cannot in anyway absolve myself of similar behavior in the past at a strip club during a bachelor or birthday party with friends in my youth.
Moving on. The strip club scene is not exactly popping with the financial crisis of the early 2000’s. Stripping obviously is not a long term plan strategy. As they are getting fewer and fewer bills raining down they start working at various jobs that are respectable work but do not require a skill which bores the group who was use to the flashy life. Queen B Ramona and the rest of the crew stumble upon the fact that they can steal credit card information from some of the still remaining rich dicks and rack up tens of thousands of dollars before these horny guys even know what hit them. There will be some drug use and blow jobs involved, including the girls cooking up a “Breaking Bad” style drug serum for clients. Yeah, for once the girls are roofie-ing the guys. But they will be living a posh lifestyle again.
The plan works fine initially but of course they start getting very greedy and end up robbing the wrong guy, a middle of the road stock broker named Stephen (Devin Ratray). Stephen is not like the top end Wall Street assholes, but he is a bit of an awkward guy and an easy target for the girls to completely ruin his life. While most clientele don’t want these extreme charges coming out because of their behavior and social status, Stephen is the one to finally go to the cops who quickly put two and two together with the hustlers.
In a perfectly done scene, the entire crew are all arrested at once. The popular Lorde song “Royals” is used and if you actually know the lyrics or had seen the original music video from 2013 you would realize that this is one of the best music choices for a climactic scene in film history. The interrogation process begins, and JLO acts her ass off, no pun intended. I mean JLO is obviously an icon, but when the fuck did she learn how to act for real and not just fluff stuff. She is excellent from start to finish.
There are so many levels to this true story. Yes, 90 percent of the people being robbed are shitty people. Then you have a few that do not deserve it. These women are being exploited night in and night out, but they are also deciding to do that, well kind of. “Hustlers” shows how a strip club can be fun and very lucrative for those not given better options in life. Similar to porn, the concept is immoral but a necessary evil on both sides of the coin in a world where people no longer get married at 17 for life.
Writer/Director Lorene Scafaria and cinematographer Todd Banhazi have created a fresh, visually well paced story that never lulls. The strip club scenes are like a rap video if it was made by a smart person, which they rarely are. The surreal nature of these peoples lives also spills out into everyday experiences seamlessly. The character dynamics are a damn mess of deceit with Ramona using these ‘bitches’ and also loving them in whatever way her demolished psyche knows how.
The final post credit scene is the only one I can think of that was actually good and not just selling a sequel. This movie is really good and when I saw Adam Mackay’s name in the credits as the producer I was like, oh now it makes sense. Mackay is the guy who directed “The Big Short”, which came out of left field to actually be good itself. No disrespect to everyone else involved, they all came together and preformed at an exceptional level. But Mackay is becoming that guy who’s name is attached to projects that look like a mess and they turn out fantastic. “Hustlers” is not about women empowerment or how all rich guys are scumbags, it just tells it like it is. For one time in life you will not feel guilty the next morning after watching horny douche bags getting drunk and looking for a handy in the VIP room.
Suck Factor: 1out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)
Written by Byrd
The SUCK FACTOR, how it works. We have flipped the rating system upside down. If a film is classic, it gets a 0. Meaning that movie has 0 SUCKS. If a film is complete trash you must avoid at all costs, it gets a 7, meaning this movie really SUCKS!