Men are stupid. At least they are in Hustlers, a film based on a true life story of the euphemistically titled, ‘exotic dancers’ who took their clients at the their club to the cleaners. Initially it’s dancer Destiny (Constance Wu) new to the gentleman’s club who nervously walks around on her first night trying to find punters but overwhelmed by the sheer brazenness of the other dancers but in awe of Ramona played by Jennifer Lopez who has the punters in the palm of her hand showering her in dollar bills whenever she pole dances. And it’s Ramona who takes Destiny under her wing teaching her the tricks of grinding away better than a Starbucks barista and eking out the three levels of stockbrokers who frequent the club and getting them to readily part with their cash.
Starting in 2007 money is no object and these girls make good money , really good money but the question initially is who has the power but its undoubtedly the dancers with men seemingly regressing to Neanderthal urge to ogle scantily clad women and in fairness J-Lo looks sensational for a 50 year old woman. But the film soon leaps forward to 2014 where Destiny is relaying her story to journalist Elizabeth (Julia Stiles) because this is a story of greed bringing about the downfall of the women when in 2008 specifically 29th September 2008, when recession hits hard and ….um….. the bottom falls out of the market. The stockbrokers, either having been made redundant or simply no longer earning obscene bonuses to squander on dancing girls, means that in turn the recession hits the dancers too with none of the punters visiting the club and spending big.
What Hustlers makes clear is that not all the girls can live off their looks in such a fickle industry all their life and Destiny, having left the club and now with a baby, can’t get a normal job and it’s a chance encounter with Ramona, who ropes in two other girls, that they come up with their plan of fishing for guys in expensive bars, getting them drunk and drugged up on Ketamine & MDMA before dragging them back to the club and relieving them of their credit card details. So whilst the men might be stupid the women here, though sharp at repeatedly pulling off the stunt, aren’t sharp enough to realize that they can’t keep repeating it night in night out without eventually getting caught.
Hustlers is produced by Will Ferrell and it’s an intriguing true life story with the men arrogantly vain believing the women are interested in them rather than their cash whereas the women come over as materialistic in the extreme and there’s a scene where the girls go on a high end shopping spree where it’s clear that regardless of all the money they acquire none of them can buy class (and J-Lo is pretty but potty mouthed in this). As the real star it’s J-Lo who has won the biggest share of the wardrobe budget with the rest of the cast seemingly dressed from charity shop cast offs. Like Showgirls and Striptease it’s difficult to know who a film featuring pole dancers is aimed at – although its seems to be only the background supporting actresses who go topless and its subject matter hardly makes this a date movie. Cardi B and Lizzo are the pop stars who also appear presumably to bring in their fans to the film but they feature only briefly and frankly look like a WeightWatchers Before & After advert. Those looking for …um….…titillation will be disappointed but at its heart this is a morality tale which breezes along.
Here’s the Hustlers trailer…….