'Hustlers' Is Not a Stripper Scam Movie
So Hustlers was supposed to be a movie about the very true story of a group of strippers getting back at rich asshole clients by drugging them and basically stealing thousands of dollars from their hefty bank accounts. At least, that’s what the trailer sold us. Let’s revisit it real quick, shall we?
Cardi B teaching Constance Wu how to give a lap dance? J.Lo hugging piles of money (as she always should be), talking about getting men “drunk enough to get their credit card but sober enough to sign the check”? Constance covered in blood, dropping off some naked guy at the hospital while begging, “somebody help my husband!” In short: this movie is delicious. That said, while it is 2019 and we all looove a good scam, in reality: it’s so much more complicated than that.
For instance, you know that scene in the trailer when Constance’s Dorothy (stripper name: Destiny) claims all she wants is enough money to take care of her grandma “for the rest of her life and maybe go shopping every once in a while”? In the movie, it goes a bit further: Dorothy wants to be completely independent and never need anyone. But throughout the entire film, she relies entirely on Jennifer Lopez’s Ramona, for better or worse.
You see, this is not a movie about goin’ all robin hood on evil rich men—the “fishing” (a strip club term for luring clients to the club and swiping their credit card) doesn’t get illegal or dangerous until about halfway through the film and, honestly, the men aren’t always the bad guys.
What this movie is really about is family—more specifically, the depths of sisterhood.
At this, and practically everything else, Hustlers is a massive success story. At their highest—champagne and Louboutin drenched Christmas parties—and their lowest, these women will do anything each-other. They celebrate new titties with flute-solos and pick each other up when they fall…or accidentally knock a “shark” unconscious. Dorothy’s first night at the club, Ramona promises to teach her the ropes and make serious money, while I watch, waiting for the tit-for-tat ultimatum that never comes.
But the movie, which was filmed in only 28 days, would be nothing without the powerhouse women behind each character. J.Lo is Ramona, the unimpeachable veteran who takes women under her wing and lifts them up to her level. From the moment she hits that pole, to *literally* taking Dorothy under her massive fur coat, to her character’s emotional acceptance of another’s betrayal, she’s deserving of every damn ounce of Oscar buzz she’s getting rn.
Then there are the women she leads: Constance, who’s starting to get used to this movie stardom thing, and Lili and Keke Palmer, who are newer to this level of the game. Every single one of them rises to J.Lo’s high standard just as their characters strive to make her proud. Real talk: I couldn’t be more excited for Keke, who’s been hustling in Hollywood since she was 11(!), and now gets to shine as a comedic tour-de-force. While Constance and J.Lo bring the heart, Lili and Keke are responsible for almost all of the laughs—at least after Cardi B. and Lizzo quietly make their exits way too soon.
All this to say, go into Hustlers expecting to lose your shit when a 50-year-old J.Lo tears the roof down to Fiona Apple’s “Criminal.” Expect to cringe and laugh as the women get deeper in over their heads with each drugged-out Wall Street mark (there’s a running Lili gag that is both sweet and ridiculous at the same time). But mostly, expect to immediately message everyone in your group chat how much you love them…right before adding that you’ve signed everyone up for a group pole dancing class.
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