Friday, June 10, 2022

Hustle (2022)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Hustle (2022)
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Sport
Length: 1h 57min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Happy Madison Productions, Kirschenbaum Productions, Roth Films, Roth/Kirschenbaum Films, SpringHill Entertainment, Netflix
Director: Jeremiah Zagar
Writer:  Will Fetters, Taylor Materne
Actors: Adam Sandler, Queen Latifah, Juancho Hernangomez, Ben Foster, Kenny Smith, Robert Duvall, Jordan Hull, MarĂ­a Botto, Ainhoa Pillet
Blurb from IMDb: A basketball scout discovers a phenomenal street ball player while in Spain and sees the prospect as his opportunity to get back into the NBA.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was absolutely right about what to expect from Hustle.
Although Adam Sandler (Hotel Transylvania, Murder Mystery, Uncut Gems) was at the top of his game in the 90s and early 2000s, people expect the worst from him these days. When I mentioned Hustle in my Top 20 for June of 2022, I explained why that didn’t affect my expectations for this film.
Sandler’s a big kid. As one myself, I don’t see anything wrong with that. That said, his humor reflects it. He’s stayed stagnant over the years.
As our world evolved, it’s become almost unrecognizable to the past. Where Sandler’s comedy flicks are concerned, that can make them a little nostalgic, but mostly they’re just extremely dated. That does not translate to his drama work.
Adam Sandler is exceptional as a drama actor. I don’t think people have fully come to terms with that as a fact. Those of us growing up with his early works are still seeing him as the guy from The Wedding Singer (1998) or Mr. Deeds (2002). The younger generations know him more as the strange guy in Hubie Halloween (2020) or That’s My Boy (2012).
In both cases, it’s rough to transform expectations from that to heartfelt, sincere, dramatic actor.
I think it’s time to take that mental leap.

As a dramatic actor, he’s on par with people like Robin Williams. His characters are deep and empathic, with just enough humor to make them endearing. He should 100% stick to dramedies. That is where he does his best work.
Hustle really showcased that. It elevated him, and he elevated it. It was an absolute pleasure to watch.
Now, I don’t like basketball. I don’t know the first thing about it. I didn’t have to. Hustle worked as an emotional and absorbing watch anyway. You could have replaced basketball with any other sport, and it still would have been just as good.
There was a bit of humor, but it felt natural. There were no forced jokes. Some of it was sweet and, mostly, mature.
A great many basic sport film tropes were in use, but the way they were done was effective. If I had any complaints, it would be that the editing could have been tighter. Better editing could have brought the film down by about 10-minutes. It’s not that big a deal, though, because there’s no looking away once you start watching.
Hustle was everything I thought it would be. If anything, it should have been higher on my Top 20 list. Give it a shot. (No pun intended.)

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again a few more times: I’m not a fan of sports movies. That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed the hell out of some genre offerings over the years. I just don’t seek out sport-related films unless they’re about figure skating.
Simply put, I love a good story. I’ll end up liking a movie about the sports flavor of the moment if it gets me invested in spite of myself. It’s not that I hate sports or anything… I just tend to get bored easily and my ADHD brain doesn’t keep up with the stats very well.
I suppose the magic question here is: did Hustle grab my attention enough to enjoy it? Simple answer. Yes.
I’ll be the first to admit that it was my slight bias regarding the genre that had Hustle placed at #18 on my personal Top 20 list for June. Now that I’ve watched this movie, I wish that I’d given it a little more of a fair shot.
Hustle was entertaining and well worth the time spent. It took me on a journey and had me invested in the characters. I laughed and worried with them. I both mourned and celebrated with them. I didn’t recognize all the professional players on screen, but I didn’t have to. I really appreciated that.

Of course, there were quite a few real pros gracing the screen here so actual basketball fans might get a bigger kick out of that. Since I’m out of the baller loop, I didn’t realize that Juancho Hernangomez, who plays Bo Cruz in Hustle, was a pro player. (He is currently a member of the Utah Jazz and the national team of Spain.) Given his skills in this film, though, it stood to reason. Hustle is this power forward’s acting debut, and he did a damn fine job.
Adam Sandler tends to get a lot of flack for his comedic movies, especially in recent years. Don’t judge Hustle by that buzz. Leave your expectations for Sandler to the wayside when you press play on this one.
Sandler seems to be having a bit of a paradigm shift with his roles. He’s knocking more serious dramatic content out of the park, and Hustle is one more on that list. Of course, there were some laughs along the way but the film wasn’t bogged down with it and the funny elements were seamlessly and organically enmeshed with the story.
All told, Hustle is an entertaining basketball tale with a lot of heart and delivers a beautiful love letter to the sport.
My husband is the big sports fan in the household and hadn’t had a chance to watch Hustle at the time I viewed it for this review, so I can predict with relative certainty that I’ll be watching it again in the very near future. Here’s the real kicker – I’m looking forward to it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 91%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 91%
Metascore – 67%
Metacritic User Score – 7.4
IMDB Score – 7.3/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 4/5
Movie Trailer:

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