The new Netflix film Hustle delivers an uplifting sports drama while reminding us of just how charming Adam Sandler can be
Starring: Adam Sandler, Queen Latifah, Ben Foster, Juancho Hernangómez, Robert Duvall, and Anthony Edwards
Directed by: Jeremiah Zagar
dam Sandler takes a break from producing low-effort comedies with/for his friends to give us the amicable sports drama Hustle, one of the better projects that have come out of Happy Madison in quite a while.
Sandler stars as Stanley Sugerman, a basketball scout whose job finding international talent for the Philadelphia 76ers keeps him away from his family – wife Teresa (Queen Latifah) and daughter Alex (Jordan Hull) – far more than he’d like. When a promotion to assistant coach falls through and sends Stanley back overseas, he chances upon Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangómez), an unknown player who is participating in a local pick-up game in Spain.
Blown away by Bo’s raw talent, Stanley brings the young man to the U.S. and attempts to get him signed by the Sixers. But things don’t go quite as smoothly as he would have hoped.
There may be nothing dazzlingly inventive about Hustle, but in keeping its storyline focused and unconvoluted, the film makes for a warm, enjoyable viewing experience as it explores a coach’s ability to bring out the best in an unpolished gem that other people overlook as well as the drive, passion, and dedication needed to become a world class sportsperson. The cast – Sandler and Hernangómez in particular – delivers effective performances, and their likable, underdog characters are easy to root for.
While the film is built on the workings of the NBA and what it takes to be a part of this uber-competitive league, you don’t necessarily have to be a devoted basketball fan to enjoy the movie, although interest in the sport will certainly help you appreciate the plethora of cameos from NBA players and coaches that are sprinkled throughout the film.
All in all, Hustle is a reminder of how charming Sandler can be and a gentle lesson on not giving up on your dreams as well as the joy in helping others reach their potential. If you are in the mood for an old-school, feel-good sports movie, then Hustle will make sure it deliver an hour and a half of entertainment; just expect some of the usual sports movie clichés and don’t look for anything mind-blowing from the storyline.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection