When we first catch a glimpse of Ramona, Jennifer Lopez‘s mama-bear character, she struts through the strip club in slow motion, commanding attention. Watching from the floor is wannabe hustler Destiny (Constance Wu), who drinks in Ramona’s every step, trying to figure out her secrets.
She watches Ramona’s astounding stripping routine — no toplessness from Lopez, calm down — featuring a lithe Lopez’s muscular legs and arms owning that pole, her lifetime of dancing making this a mere trifle. (At least, it certainly seems that way.) During the act, Ramona is showered in dollar bills, so many in fact that she doesn’t have room in her bikini to fit them all.
This is Hustlers. Inspired by a New York Magazine article, the story follows a group of strip-club employees who drug their high-end clientele and steal their money, as retribution for their troubled lives and mistreatment at the hands of men.
Is this movie just for women?
After literal decades of movies like this for men, women are finally getting their due. (Recall Widows, the 2018 movie featuring multiple wives of criminals who take over the crimes after their husbands die in a police shootout, and Proud Mary, with Taraji P. Henson kicking ass and taking names, among many others.) So while men might find fewer things to identify with, it’s by no means women-only.
There’s Oscar buzz for Jennifer Lopez?
It’s true, but that feels like a bit of a stretch. Hustlers may be fun, it may be entertaining, but it’s not particularly groundbreaking or creative. We’ve seen elements of this story before. As Destiny watches Ramona on the stripper pole, I got flashbacks to Showgirls, when a naive Elizabeth Berkley is watching the veteran Gina Gershon perform in Las Vegas, trying to figure out the magic of domination.
Some facets of the movie, especially towards the end, seem tacked on and implausible, which could also impact the movie’s Oscar chances. Lopez has a tough uphill climb, particularly in this year of biopics, and it would be quite something if she won an Academy Award for this.
How is the rest of the cast?
Each cast member contributes their own special blend of charisma, from lead Wu to the bit players like Lizzo and rapper Cardi B. Sub-leads Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart are both humourous, each with their own quirks. Because the majority of the characters are coming into big money for the first time, it’s a blast to watch what they do/purchase with it. Who among us hasn’t dreamed of making it rain while sipping some Dom?
Not to be spoiled here, but Lopez also delivers the best line in cinema this year (so far). Hint: she’s wearing a massive fur coat and not much else when she says it.
So what’s the bottom line?
A fun movie for girls’ nights or a weekend outing with friends, Hustlers is both emotional and entertaining, featuring some laugh-out-loud scenes and other ugly-cry ones. While it’s not breaking new ground in terms of plot, it’s nice to see women on the powerful side of things.
‘Hustlers’ is now playing in theatres across Canada.