Though it wasn’t able to beat It: Chapter 2 out of it’s #1 spot at the box office, Hustlers has certainly been gaining some buzz (especially of the Oscar variety??). SO, let’s get into the good and the bad!
No Shame: You go in thinking the film will be entirely about stripper life, but it isn’t! The film earns its title showcasing characters that are really doing what they can to make money and not only survive, but thrive. The film made a wise choice in setting up their characters in 2007, just before the financial crisis hit; we see them breakdown this culture, break down their business, and showcase how they earned their coins.
Now, what could have been so easy to do in this movie was create slut-shaming characters. Destiny’s (Constance Wu) grandmother could have EASILY been made a character that looked down and judged her granddaughter for the methods she used to make her living. They could have easily created a conflict with Ramona (J Lo) and her daughter, but they didn’t fall for it.
On the contrary, Destiny’s grandmother (Wai Ching Ho) is a fellow hustler! In her old age and experience she seems to know what it requires to survive in this world. It comes full-circle when Ramona asks her if the movie star had showed up on her wedding day would she have left her husband. She responds with, “which car is he driving?”.
I could see how one would view this moment as materialistic, but the film does such a good job of setting up its story; The country literally went through the greatest financial crisis since the great depression. One does what one has to do and I respected the S**** out of these strippers.
Cardi B: Long may she reign, ya’ll. I admit the movie needed more of her, but where she did appear she had the audience laughing their asses off. She was phenomenal. Her on-screen with Ramona and Destiny while they were practicing made me flashback to Coyote Ugly. This movie, at least the first third, really feels like a modern and R rated update of that film. The modern element? There’s no man being longed for-just that money.
Easy Traps Avoided: As I already mentioned, I’m glad this movie didn’t give us a slut shame plot. That would have been too f****** easy. It also avoided the obnoxious stuff we often see in female ensemble films like this; ladies start as best friends and then they become sworn enemies. Yes, Ramona and Destiny have a rocky relationship, but it’s caused more from their personal necessities and their frustrations with a system. It could have easily been Ramona jealous of the younger pretty model, Ramona frames Destiny so she can get off clean, Destiny turns on Ramona and it turns into a petty girl fight…. Nah, none of that.
The closest we get is after they have been arrested and Destiny confesses that she took the plea deal. Here we see Ramona furious with Destiny, but this moment that could have easily been the decay of the movie became it’s most powerful; Ramona is a mother and she understands immediately why Destiny did what she did. She knows it, accepts it, and respects it. One of my favorite moments in the movie.
J F****** LO: Speaking of favorite moments, respect is owed to Jennifer Lopez. Can we all embrace and internalize that she is fifty and KILLING IT?! Her dance at the beginning of the movie to Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” made me straight for five minutes. MY. GAWD.
Do I think this is an oscar performance? I’m leaning more towards not. However, we will see what other nominees we have this year. Personally, if she gets a a nomination then I’m going to really need Jillian Bell to be nominated for Brittany Runs a Marathon.
Overall though, she killed it.
Everything B.C. (Before Crisis): This movie is so much fun-up until the end of the Usher scene. It feels like Coyote Ugly, it feels like a hilarious Magic Mike, and it’s just such a hysterical good time. Though, just like in real life, everything changes after the financial crisis hits in 2008 and s*** gets dark. Not saying what came after was bad! There were still laughs ahead, but what came before Usher was just 10/10.
Throwback Soundtrack: I loved the 2000’s and getting to hear some of the songs in this movie were welcomed throwbacks. The last time I heard “Make it Rain”?! Priceless.
I ONLY Wanna Make Love in This Club: As just mentioned, everything up until the financial crisis in this movie was gold. That’s where we had the cash flowing, J Lo confusing audience sexual orientations, Cardi B, Lizzo, and getting educated on how dumb rich dudes throw away their cash.
Again, not that what came after was bad! It was still fun and had a lot of great moments. I think I would enjoy this movie more the second time around since I watched this with a great deal of anxiety. The reason for that being I was anticipating those easy traps that I mentioned earlier. However, the benefits of having a female director (Lorene Scafaria) lead the ship of a female ensemble shine through. I believe had this not been the case it would have stepped on all those f****** landmines.
I can rewatch the first third of this movie over and over. The rest of it? Bit of a commitment.
Guys, I give Hustlers a 3.5 out of 5 potatoes!