Have you seen “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”? If you have, then you’ve pretty much seen “The Hustle”, a good-natured, luxuriously indulgent but unnecessarily faithful remake of the well-liked Steve Martin/ Michael Caine remake of 1964’s “Bedtime Story”.
Running out of boob-job funding rubes to fleece in New York, low-level grifter Penny Rust (Rebel Wilson) heads to the south of France where she happens to cross paths with high-class con artiste Josephine Chesterfield (Anne Hathaway). For a while the two team up but when naïve young tech billionaire Thomas Westerburg (Alex Sharp) arrives in Beaumont-sur-Mer, the rivals make a bet on who can scam him out of half a million dollars with the loser forced to leave town for good.
Of course, the real con here is pulled on those expecting some kind of sharp feminist point to be made here when what’s presented is a simply gender-flipped beat for beat remake of the previous incarnation of the tale, albeit updated where necessary to accommodate its stars or modern day technology. Both Hathaway and Wilson are well-suited to their roles, but neither is particularly challenged or stretched by them. Ingrid Oliver (“Doctor Who”’s Osgood) is good value but underutilised as Chesterfield’s local police collaborator.
Debut feature director Chris Addison keeps the tone light and the pace breezy, knowing enough to let his two experienced stars do their thing but they’re held too tightly to the structure and plot of previous versions to achieve anything more than a sparkly imitation. In the end “The Hustle” is just another setting of cubic zirconia when we were promised diamonds.