Is “Hustlers” worth a date night? Absolutely NOT.
The film is based on a true story of New York City strippers who hatched a scheme to drug and rob their wealthy Wall Street clients amid the 2008 financial meltdown. It’s well-made but filled with numerous scenes of erotic dancing, ridiculously scanty outfits, and a nasty undertone.
There’s no one to root for.
This is the kind of movie that will make you feel like taking a shower in holy water afterwards and getting right with the Lord.
Jennifer Lopez has built an improbably long-lasting career on a combination of image and legitimately strong acting chops. She brings both to the big screen in her latest movie. “Hustlers” made a strong debut at the box office last weekend.
But unfortunately this movie is a classic example of pandering for popularity.
The main character, Destiny (Constance Wu of “Crazy Rich Asians”) is an Asian-American woman who has just begun this line of work. She’s not really doing so well. She feels awkward.
One night, the emcee welcomes Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) to the stage. Ramona has been in the business for a while and it clearly shows. She walks away with more cash than she can carry. Destiny is immediately drawn to Ramona. She follows her outside to the rooftop for a cigarette.
They begin to quickly bond, and Ramona offers to give Destiny some tips on how to do better.
Pretty soon, Destiny and Ramona work together seamlessly. They rake in thousands of dollars.
Destiny is finally feeling comfortable and independent. She’s able to help her grandmother pay off her debts and rent.
However, they never predicted the economic crash of 2008. Because many of their regular clients are Wall Street guys, their clientele begins to dwindle away. The club slows down tremendously. Around this same time, Destiny also finds out she’s pregnant. She has quite a number of reasons to fear the future.
After she and her boyfriend break up, Destiny starts to scramble. She calls some of the men who previously had paid for her life while she was at the club, but it leads nowhere.
At the end of her rope, she returns to the strip club, finding that the new girls have taken on new strategies to earn extra cash.
“Hustler” is based on an illicit scheme
Soon after returning, Destiny runs into her old friend Ramona.
They share in the struggle, as she finds out that Ramona has been working in retail making minimum wage since the crash. Ramona suggests they “go fishing” and reel in new clientele for the club.
They place themselves in high end bars and restaurants, searching for wealthy looking men, especially those with wedding rings. This plan works for a while. They earn a commission on the money that these men spend, too. That is, until Destiny and Ramona see that other women have adopted the same strategy.
Ramona decides they need to take their business in house and begin to take men to homes and hotels.
Soon after that, she finds that a mixture of MDMA and Ketamine can help these men feel good, but also not remember what happened the night before. This way, they can slip this mixture into their drinks and charge their personal and business credit cards to the max. The men just believe that they were having a good time, tipping and buying drinks all night.
Destiny begins to have second thoughts about this, but now they’re in too deep.
However, this type of business can’t go on too long, and when they loop in a new person, everything begins to crumble before them.
A true story with such terrible people, there’s no one to root for
“Hustlers” is based on true events originally written about by a female journalist for the New York Magazine.
Men were making the newspaper in New York for spending upwards of $100,000 at a strip club. The women who were doing these things felt their actions were justifiable because of the men who they were swindling and blackmailing. They viewed these men as thieves, and so the money that they were taking was already stolen.
“Hustlers” is well produced and features talented stars like Jennifer Lopez and successful newcomer Constance Wu. With names like comedian Will Ferrell and comedy director Adam McKay attached, the story is told in a way that’s entertaining.
However, the amount of questionable, immoral content in the movie is astronomical.
Also, of course, the subject matter of the movie is completely immoral. There is a high amount of nudity and sexual implications, as well as lots of strong foul language.
The drug use is sometimes consensual, and sometimes done without the person’s knowledge. There is rarely a scene without alcohol.
Although it’s done to tell the story, the amount of immoral content depicted is disgusting.
Also, everyone in the movie (including the female journalist writing about the situation) thinks the women’s actions were justifiable because of the type of men they were drugging, stealing from and blackmailing.
So, the movie’s viewpoint is as abhorrent as the behavior it depicts.
All in all, those who are seeking a night out at the movies on a date should hustle as fast as they can away from this movie and into just about anything else at the multiplex.
Carl Kozlowski is a Catholic comedian, film reviewer, and journalist who is also the founder and co-owner of the podcast station www.radiotitans.com in Los Angeles. He reviews movies for the Catholic News Agency as well as the Christian site Movieguide.org, but has also worked with secular outlets including the Pasadena Weekly, Chicago Tribune and Esquire. He has also produced and hosted comedy shows for the LA Catholic Archdiocese's charities and performed at some of the nation's top clubs and with top comics including Dane Cook and Dave Chappelle. He strives to find the way to work with both Christian and secular audiences in all his career paths.