film reel image

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Thursday, June 16, 2022

Hustle 2022 * * * Stars


2022's Hustle premiered in June of this year. Its distributor is Netflix, a streaming service that has been losing its customers (hey I'm still on board). Hustle is a rather restrained basketball kernel but that doesn't mean it's not worth recommending. It's kinda like the NBA version of Trouble with the Curve and/or Million Dollar Arm (those are baseball flicks if you didn't know already).

Hustle stars Adam Sandler and with his 2019 vehicle Uncut Gems, Adam is obviously tearing away from his comedic shtick and continuously branching out as an actor. Could Hustle go down a darker turn with his b-ball scout character who has a past? It does in certain scenes but the tone is mostly held back. Does Sandler give a decent performance? Sure he does. There's no role researching here because the dude in real life is a huge NBA fan.

Featuring tons of NBA player/coach cameos (Trae Young, Seth Curry, Brad Stevens, Doc Rivers) and swiftly-paced dunks and layups, Hustle is obviously authentic and wily in its approach. I mean I don't know much about the sport but I could surely tell (LeBron James was a producer, nuff said).

Using social media as a platform (you kinda have to) and being a sort of product placement for the Philadelphia 76ers (remember the A's and Moneyball?), Hustle is about Stanley Sugermen (Sandler). Stanley is a veteran NBA talent spotter who struggles to get an unknown baller from Spain into the NBA draft. Standing in his way is an arrogant 76ers owner (Ben Foster's Vince Merrick whose persona sort of fades and is underdeveloped).

All in all, Hustle is no great shakes as hard-hitting drama with emotional hub (I mean it's billed as one so I went there). And yeah, it's a tad predictable (come on, you knew the angular Spaniard was gonna make it). Still, Hustle is entertaining, smoothly plotted, and in parts, uplifting. If you're an NBA fan or an aspiring player, you'll like it just enough. Hustle and "flowed".

Written by Jesse Burleson

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