Adam Sandler has always been a good actor long before Uncut Gems. That film proved that he is a great actor. When it comes to his latest film, Hustle, Sandler gets to show off his impressive range.
Hustle follows a man named Stanley Sugerman (Sandler) whose love for basketball is unparalleled despite an accident that derailed his playing career, but the travel weary Philadelphia 76ers scout has higher ambitions of being a coach but remains stuck on the road looking for the next unknown talent. His search around the world would lead him to Spain, when he discovers a talented Spanish basketball player named Bo Cruz (Hernangómez, a current NBA player), an incredible streetball player with a troubled past that he found hustling players for cash. His search was now over. From there, the connection between Sugerman and Cruz on and off the court was there right away as their passion for the game matched their love for their families for whom they want to prove they can win both in basketball and in life. With the support of Sugerman’s wife, Teresa (Queen Latifah), the only question was can these underdogs come out on top?
However, a lot of Sugerman’s enthusiasm is ruined by the corporate nature of the sport and his ‘not so likable’ boss, Philadelphia 76ers owner Rex Merrick (Robert Duvall) and his son Vince (Foster). As a film, Hustle is more about the business of basketball more than basketball itself. This formula made for a lot more drama than a large number of other films in the genre. That being said, the story is very predictable for the most part and an average rags to riches story. In spite of this, the quality filmmaking behind it gives it a more immersive feel. Moreover the film maintains it’s aesthetic very well throughout with the camerawork and the lighting adding to that. Meanwhile, the characters or the story were grounded and were never outlandish. The film also features plenty moments of humor to help break up the drama while keeping things grounded throughout as it focused on the family drama across both Sugerman and Cruz’s families. Having a lot of NBA players cameo makes things better too.
In spite of its simple nature, Hustle has a lot of good things about it from Sandler’s strong performance as Sugerman, its overall likeable characters, and a beautiful aesthetic. The family drama in Sugerman and Cruz’s lives were not only compelling to watch but are sure to resonate with audiences. Adding to that aesthetic was some of the best sports film editing in recent memory. However, the film does feature a time jump that may be a point of contention for some audiences. That is just one minor complaint in a film that is otherwise fantastic.
At the end of the day, Hustle is definitely worth a watch as it is a film that is sure to connect with a lot of audiences but they still should not expect anything too special. Though it may be simple, it is also well made. With a running time of just under two hours, it is a good quick watch.