As competing and then collaborating con artists Josephine and Penny, Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson are delightful in the first half of The Hustle.
For nearly 45 minutes, the gender swap take on Dirty Rotten Scoundrels simply lets them cut loose with Hathaway in dignified British mode and Wilson doing her usual crass but charming Australian thing, reveling in the comedic joy of their opposite natures on the French Riviera.
It’s so entertaining watching them run quick yet elaborately-planned cons that the film doesn’t need one big mission to get it to the finish line — or at least not one as lackluster as what new female screenwriter Jac Schaeffer devises, and certainly not one with such a vanilla mark.
Thoroughly pleasant in 2018’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties, Alex Sharp exhibits Brit Marling levels of anti-personality as a young Silicon Valley millionaire who becomes the basis of the tricksters’ bet.
Focusing on his blandness instead of harnessing the gifted women’s strengths and exploring their characters’ rivalry in a respectable manner, The Hustle eschews originality in favor of being overly faithful to its source material.
Not even the dopey updates, such as a trio dubbed “The Real Housewives of Essex” substituting for the original’s rowdy sailors, accomplish much and ultimately make The Hustle a waste of time and talent.
Grade: C. Rated PG-13. Now playing at AMC Classic, Biltmore Grande, and Carolina Cinemark
(Photo: by Christian Black © 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.)