Comparing Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to 2019 Remake The Hustle

So, how does the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels of 1988 compare with femme remake The Hustle in 2019?

That’s the thing.  One is a tight, lovely little tale. The other is a sad ripoff.

The Hustle might seem fresh if you’ve never seen Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Steve Martin and Michael Cain. But for anyone who has enjoyed this great con tale, The Hustle is a shock to the system. The Hustle took Scoundrels note by note, gender flipped it with Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson, removed most of the charm, and called it a wrap.

There are remakes that work. There are re-imaginings that surpass the original. And then there is THIS mess.

The Hustle is the exact same movie as Scoundrels with a weaker plot, less accomplished actors, and an irksome roteness. It’s like they wrote the script for The Hustle with a checklist from Scoundrels: the first scene features a priceless diamond bracelet as part of a scam — check. The grifter low-rent con worms her way into the classy con’s life, an early train sequence, a corrupt cop on the payroll — checkity. There’s the same bet about who has to leave town…the hapless mark is a sweet young thing that comes between their greed and a grudging compassion….checkcheckcheck.

And Ruprecht becomes Hortenze…okkkkay? Sorry, Wilson, but Martin did it better. His fool was cool, and yours hurts the senses.

Then there’s the ending. Holy hell. It retroactively cheapens the payoff in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to have it be Exactly. The. Same. Thing.

Why not just call it Dirty Rotten Scoundrels outright if they can’t be bothered to change the script? Ghostbusters did just that in 2016, but at least they bothered to write a new story.

Who got conned in the end? We did. Movie tickets aren’t exactly cheap.

Please don’t encourage the producers of The Hustle. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is available entirely free on You Tube, and remains a polished jewel. The Hustle is a polished turd…which is still a turd, after all.

Movie Review – The Hustle – Rewatch Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Instead

Quiz – Rebel Wilson – The Newest Funny Gal in Show Business

Movie Review – Ghostbusters (2016 reboot)

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Does It Better than The Hustle – A Rewatch Review

Although Dirty Rotten Scoundrels came out 30 years ago, it’s still the movie to beat when compared with the 2019 female-led remake The Hustle. Starring Steve Martin, Michael Cain, and Glenne Headley (who died last year — RIP), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels provides a witty journey with a pair of cons who are as likely to team up as turn on each other. In fact, in Scoundrels, they do both. And it’s glorious.

I’m not saying Scoundrels isn’t super silly at times (ie – “Ruprecht” — see video and catch an immortal “Pee” reference) – but these guys make it work. Mention this movie to people and they invariably quote, “Excuse me, may I go to the bathroom first?”

Or here, just watch the entire Ruprecht sequence on video:

Cain is the cool, suave, and smooth straight-man; Martin frolics, bumbles, and gleefully goofs his way across the Riviera. A young Glenne Headly is the ideal ingenue. Plus — bonus —  Emperor Palpatine gets to say, “Welcome to Hell.” (You can’t mistake Ian McDiarmid here as the butler, pre-Star Wars.)

In Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, nothing is exactly what it seems, and it’s the wacky, unexpected payoff that makes this truly memorable. People my age remember this film, and young folk still take to it. It holds up nicely, with only a few earmarks to indicate an 80s timestamp. When I re-watched this last night, I was “relieved” (ha — no pun intended) to see it was as playful and clever as I recalled.

True to the nature of the Big Con, Scoundrels looks expensive, with locations sets on the French Riviera, at high end hotels, with a luxe villa to drool over. The scenery, cars, and bespoke suits add the perfect touches — in all ways, the producers did Dirty Rotten Scoundrels right  This silly comedy earns an A- in my book, even now.

Lots of laughs and a fun-filled farce with A listers on their A game? Yes, please.

Movie Review – The Hustle – Rewatch Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Instead

Movie Review - The HustleAh, The Hustle. It looked so winsome from the trailers. I like Rebel Wilson most of the time, and Anne Hathaway almost all the time. The promising premise: a comedy with two completely different brands of women, running high-stakes scams on rich men in Europe. I was excited to do the Peetimes for this film, expecting an evening of clever fun.

But then it entirely fell down in the execution, with a big old tiresome pratfall.

The Hustle was so very much like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but a whole lot less amusing, and oftentimes outright silly. And honestly, I like silly movies when I’m in the mood for it, but The Hustle is the bad kind of silly. I even wrote in my notes (during the last Peetime) “More of the stupid continues for several minutes.”

I’m not saying this is a bad movie. It’s just relentlessly mediocre, often tiresome, frequently awkward, and not as funny as it should be. Sometimes I cringed at the lazy incompetence of the script. I don’t think I laughed out loud once, although I did smile here and there. The plot has a few minor payoffs that do work, especially in the beginning, but by the time the main con is underway, the fails start rolling in.

What else? The Hustle looks good, with sun-drenched sea-side location shots, luxurious outfits, and a boyishly cute male lead (Alex Sharp). There’s good pacing, and some snappy banter. If you want to watch Wilson and Hathaway bicker and snipe at each other for an hour and a half, this might be your film.

Personally, I’d rather re-watch Steve Martin in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I’d have to view it again to see how it holds up with the passage of the years, but that’s a film I have fond feelings for.

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: This was an easy movie to find Peetimes. My 3 Peetimes are nicely spaced out, and equally good, although short. If you can hold out for the final Peetime at 1:07, it’s the best one with the least humor.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Hustle. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for crude sexual content and language
Genres: Comedy, Caper/Heist

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Does It Better: A re-watch review, with comparisons to The Hustle

Quiz – Rebel Wilson – The Newest Funny Gal in Show Business

Movie Review – Interstellar

Movie Review - InterstellarMy one word review would be: disappointed.

I think Christopher Nolan tried too hard to make a modern day 2001 A Space Odyssey. The ships looked much like 2001. There were long, drawn out scenes of docking. The robot TARS simultaneously pays homage to HAL and the monolith. And of course the visuals throughout the movie echo back to 2001.

The best thing I can say about the movie is the acting is top notch. Matthew McConaughey was excellent, and I thought Mackenzie Foy, the young daughter, was fantastic in every scene.

I have a big problem with Anne Hathaway’s role. Her acting was, as usual, superb, but her role was completely wasted on her talents. For such a long movie, there was surprisingly little time devoted to giving her character, Amelia, any meat. Amelia was either giving technical dialog, devoid of emotion, or frantically reacting to something. There wasn’t any time for play and bonding between the characters.

I’m tempted to give this movie a much worse rating, but the acting pulls it out of the gutter.

One more thing: stop playing blaringly loud music over dialog. There were numerous times I had no idea what the actors were saying. It was distracting all the way through the movie.

Grade: C+

Upon further review..
It’s been a few years since I posted the original review, and I’ve seen it a few more times since then. I still don’t love the movie, but I’ve warmed up to it a little. I’d bump the grade up to a solid B, maybe even B+. It is, for me, an easy movie to rewatch because it’s so beautifully filmed, and the music is outstanding, even though my original observation that the music plays too loudly over the dialog still holds.

About The Peetimes: I would recommend that you use the 1st Peetime. #1 is a perfect Peetime. There’s no character development, action, or plot development. #2 has some dramatic scenes, but they are easy to sum up. #3 has one long tension building scene but you’ll be back before it reaches the climax..

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Interstellar. (What we mean by Anything Extra)

Buy the movie from Amazon.com on DVD or Blu Ray