I will admit that when I first saw the trailer for “Hustlers,” I immediately wrote it off as a “cheap” movie filled with B or C-List actors (and female rappers) surrounding Jennifer Lopez. It looked like a money grab and I told myself to pass on it. Close to the release of the film, I read into it more and then realized that it was in fact, a serious movie based on a true story during an important time in the early “aughts.” At its core, “Hustlers” is really a Wall Street movie. The whole movie is based on a viral article out of the New York Magazine called “The Hustlers at Scores” by Jessica Pressler. Linked here (https://bit.ly/2FkYnrA). “Hustlers” is about a group of strippers who find a way to make serious money during the financial crisis in 2008. They would take advantage of Wall Street men with deep pockets, drug them up, and then empty their bank account or max out their credit cards. Some of the men could afford to be taken for $5,000 and not bat an eye. A few others, with not such deep pockets, ended up losing mortgage payments and more, putting their families in jeopardy. It was a pretty rotten scheme but the ladies thought it was fair given that the Wall Street guys screwed over so many people, short selling homes and whatnot. They also believed that the Wall Street guys deserved it.
In “Hustlers,” Jennifer Lopez portrays Ramona the stripper and ringleader of the scheme. Constance Wu portrays Destiny, who actually is somewhat of a narrator of the movie. The whole movie is a flashback while Destiny talks to Elizabeth (played by Julia Stiles). Elizabeth is a reporter who is recording every word Destiny says to compile the article about the whole ordeal. Along with Destiny, Mercedes (played by Keke Palmer) and Annabelle (played by Lili Reinhart) join Ramona’s crew and eventually the operation gets too big and messy for them to handle.
One of the most surprising elements of “Hustlers” to me was the quality of acting done by the ladies. I knew Jennifer Lopez could act so I knew she would do a fine job, but Constance Wu hit a home run here! She normally sticks to comedic roles and plays it safe. Although the acting in the sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat” where she plays tiger-mom Jessica Huang, is pretty cheesy across the board, I still enjoy her work in it. She also did a pretty good job in “Crazy Rich Asians.” Her role in “Hustlers” is out of her comfort zone because it is a dramatic role yet, she nailed it. As for the rappers Lizzo and Cardi B, I think they were just added as a marketing gimmick for their respective fans. Neither of the two rappers have much more than five minutes of screentime. With a runtime of one hour and forty-nine minutes, you blink and you just might miss the rappers?
I saw “Hustlers” in an AMC Prime theater that boasts great sound and for the first part of the movie it was pretty loud. The first part of the movie is what contains a majority of the strip club scenes and all the strip clubs were playing loud music. At some parts, it was hard to hear the dialogue of a few actors over the strip club’s music, but I was able to make do.
Even though “Hustlers” is mostly a crime drama, it does manage to squeeze in a decent amount of comic relief. I don’t want to spoil anything, but you will be laughing at a few scenes. At the parts where you aren’t laughing, your mouth will be on the floor when you see all the rotten and heartless things these ladies cooked up.
I would definitely recommend seeing “Hustlers” with a group of friends because it is a very good movie and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It was a great surprise! Just don’t take notes on their con or try to pull off anything in the movie. It obviously will not end well for you.