Watch Hustle on Netflix
Written by: Taylor Materne and Will Fetters
Directed by: Jeremiah Zagar
Starring: Adam Sandler, Ben Foster, Robert Duvall, Queen Latifah, Juancho Hernangomez, Jaleel White
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A washed-up basketball scout discovers a phenomenal street ball player while in Spain and sees the prospect as his opportunity to get back into the NBA.
I really liked this, and I’d probably like it even more if I was a basketball fan. While it certainly employs a few common sports tropes, it also captures the emotional foundation of these characters really well. It’s touching, inspiring, and exciting. The directing and basketball scenes are also notable.
While Adam Sandler’s recent run of comedies like Murder Mystery and Ridiculous 6 are better if skipped, his dramas such as Uncut Gems have impressed. Hernangomez does a great job in his first movie, and he’s currently playing for the Utah Jazz professional basketball team. The movie used quite a few pro basketball players which certainly helps the scenes.
|Adam Sandler plays Stanley Sugerman|
Stanley Sugerman (Adam Sandler) is an overseas scout for the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s a grueling life as he’s constantly traveling, watching tape, and being courted by hopeful basketball players. I wondered if he just loves the game or is trying to work his way up. It turns out to be a bit of both, but the script does a nice job of building characters without having to rely on exposition.
Stanley gets the job he wants and as I predicted he doesn’t keep the job long before going back to scouting. This bit was very easy to foresee. I wondered if he was demoted by new owner Vince (Ben Foster) due to spite or for a legitimate reason.
Vince is an interesting antagonist. The movie doesn’t give us much. We see he’s rich and spoiled, and really our imaginations do the rest. We already like Stanley, and we don’t know Vince so the lines are easy to draw. While Vince provides a plausible reason for the demotion, we wonder if that’s genuine.
Stanley happens upon a street ball game and sees a gifted athlete. This is Stanley’s job; he knows talent. It’s a great sequence as the movie shows us Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangomez). This could be a beneficial situation for both. Bo could reach the NBA and Stanley could get a promotion.
|Juancho Hernangomez and Adam Sandler play Bo Cruz and Stanley Sugerman|
Stanley’s aspirations don’t go as planned. Instead of being impressed Vince is nonplussed. It really seems like this character is here to be a nondescript antagonist. We don’t really get a reason for his action, other than it helps the plot and gives Stanley an obstacle to overcome. Even so, that works well enough.
This movie has some really nice moments as it creates camaraderie between Stanley and Bo. They are both chasing a dream. Kermit (Anthony Edwards) is the on-court antagonist for Bo. In typical sports movie fashion Kermit bests Bo mid-way in, but you know they will meet again to provide a chance for Bo to succeed in a dramatic moment at the end. This also includes the training montage.
This is really enjoyable movie with a lot of heart. You know who Stanley and Bo are, and that’s a credit to the writing. We know what they’re after, and that’s underpinned by their love of the game. You can’t help but like them and this movie.
I like the directing and the basketball sequences. This opts for close up shots to put us in Bo’s head and give us a shot we don’t often see in sports movies.