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.