Adam Sandler’s latest dramatic endeavor following his success in Uncut Gems is Hustle on Netflix which follows the story of an NBA recruiter looking to realize his dream of coaching and a long shot new player from Spain.
But is Hustle any good? The Conservative Critic asks: is it entertaining? Does it have artistic/intellectual value and is it liberal propaganda?
The Conservative Critic Meter Check: Hustle
Overall rating: Fine+
Hustle is a perfectly worthy and fine watch for at home on a lazy weekend. It’s a well worn type of story about an weathered sports executive who is looking to finally make his dreams come true and get off the road and a loveable underdog with a past and good heart. We’ve seen this story before, it’s very Jerry McGuire, Rocky, The Rookie, Moneyball, The Fighter etc. etc. The stakes are fairly low in Hustle and therefore the story moves along at a glacial pace. However, Adam Sandler and his supporting cast including real professional basketball players (both current and retired) deliver committed, credible and emotional performances. The basketball sequences are impressive and enjoyable and overall the movie does itself justice.
Is it entertaining?
The pace of Hustle is ironically sluggish. The story spends far too much time in each segment and repeats sequences never fully building the tension viewers desire and the story needs to fully entertain. But the characters are easy to root for and the basketball segments are fun to watch especially for fans of the sport. Sandler as NBA recruiter Stanly Sugerman and real life Utah Jazz player Juancho Hernangomez as Bo Cruz have enough on-screen chemistry and charm to keep the story moving and keep viewers interested in their struggle. The twists and turns seem fairly predictable and low key but their restraint merely keeps the film quiet; it does not make it a complete bore. Hustle is definitely watchable especially if you’re a basketball fan.
Does it have artistic/intellectual value?
Rating: Well performed
Sandler gives a strong, calculated and emotionally credible performance which he has long perfected and his fans have come to expect. He is joined by Queen Latifa (The Equalizer) as his wife and she brings the movie heaps of class and life. Hernangomez gives a surprisingly nuanced performance as a struggling player dealing with complicated family issues and in over his head in a new country. Director Jermiah Zagar wisely limited dialog and allowed Hernangomez to give a more physical performance leaning on his talents as an athlete. Paying homage to Rocky, one of Hernangomez’s better scenes shows him running full speed up a hill and a flight of stairs completing his (too long) training sequence. There is emotion in power and in human struggle, and Zagar understood how to capitalize on it. Ben Foster (Contraband) is also at his best as someone to hate for no reason playing the 76ers manager and foil to Sandler’s Sugerman.
The story is very derivative and there isn’t much to judge in terms of cinematography or other artistic choices. There are a lot of medium shots, the athletic filming isn’t particularly innovative or particularly athletic. However, even in the outright robbery of some plot lines from other sports films Hustle comes off like it might be based on a true story even though it is a work of complete fiction. There is no denying that regardless of the tired ground, the story seems like it could be legitimate which is a credit to the writing.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: No agenda
There is no political agenda in Hustle.