Hustle is the newest installment in Adam Sandler's long-running Netflix contract, which has finally produced something that isn't a slapdash comedy. He plays a professional basketball scout who risks his career for a Spanish streetball prospect played by real-life NBA star Juancho Hernangomez.
It has all the hallmarks of a BOATS (Based On A True Story) film, but it isn't, instead opting for Rocky-Esque fiction laced with a slew of cameos from current and former NBA stars (LeBron James is a credited producer).
So this is Relatively Serious Sandler, another pleasant demonstration of his dramatic prowess, and if the film isn't as creative as Uncut Gems, it at least offers him more – much more – to do than lazily deliver half-written gags. We should be grateful for that.
Hustle Movie Review
The gist: Hustle begins with a trip montage, showing Stanley Sugerman (Sandler) in airports, hotels, gyms, and arenas, scouting basketball stars, and subsisting on greasy fast food. He sloughs around as if he's been doing it forever, which he is. He's a former player with large scars on his hand, which could explain why he's no longer playing and works as a scout for Philadelphia.
On his list, he crosses out one dud after another, and the best guy is only a possibility. He meets with the Merrick family's top executives, including owner Rex (Robert Duvall), son Vince (Ben Foster), and daughter Kat (Heidi Gardner). Stanley clashes with Vince, who wants to choose the possible player despite Stanley's advice.
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The old man eventually sides with Stanley; there's a surrogate father-son connection at work here. Rex calls Stanely away, promotes him to assistant coach, and hugs him. Stanley returns home to his wife Teresa (Queen Latifah) and daughter Alex (Jordan Hull), who celebrate because he has finally realized his dream of being at the end of the bench. And then Rex dies, because that's how Stanley's life goes.
AFTER THREE MONTHS: The player Vince desired but Stanley did not? He's not really working out. It makes no difference. Vince is an arrogant jerk, and in these cases, arrogant jerks don't accept their errors, instead of demoting Stanley back to scout and laughing about how our protagonist will miss yet another of his daughter's birthdays because he'll be back on the road all the time.
Vince sets a goal for Stanley: find the team's missing piece, and he'll reclaim his coaching position. So, Stanley, off you go to another bucket of KFC in another hotel in another strange place.
Everything goes wrong until he's in Spain and comes across a streetball game and spots a player who is thrilling a large gathering of bystanders until another guy comes along and smothers him.
Bo Cruz is the other suffocating character (Hernangomez). Stanley follows him home, and before you know it, Bo is again on a plane to Philadelphia, trying to make it all the way to the NBA.
Stanley Sugerman is an aged international scout for the National Basketball Association's Philadelphia 76ers, enjoying life on the road in pursuit of future stars. His constant travel strains his wife Teresa and daughter Alex, and while he is popular with 76ers owner Rex Merrick, he disagrees philosophically with Rex's son Vincent.
Rex elevates Stanley to assistant coach, allowing him to stay at home with his family. However, Rex dies the following evening, putting Vince in the leadership of the squad.
Three months later, Vince reinstates Stanley as a scout, sending him overseas to uncover a new star. Stanley talks with his former college teammate Leon Rich, who wants him to leave the 76ers and work as a player agent with him.
Following the failure of Stanley's plan to scout another player in Spain, he finds himself watching a local pick-up game, where he is astounded by an unknown player who demonstrates tremendous potential.
He tries to speak with the man, Bo Cruz but is turned down until he calls Dirk Nowitzki on Facetime to confirm his legitimacy. Bo and his mother Paola relate his life story: he was a good player from a young age and was offered to play in America at the age of 15, but returned to Spain when his fiancée became pregnant with his daughter Lucia. Bo is currently a construction worker who also plays basketball for a living.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Adam Sandler's New Movie on Netflix?
We traced the locations where Adam Sandler and his crew filmed “Hustle” in Philadelphia. We knew Philadelphia would play a key role in the Netflix basketball thriller Hustle when Adam Sandler came to town to film it in fall 2020. We were not let down.
Is Hustle a Good Movie?
Hustle sticks to a tried-and-true game plan but executes it flawlessly, with a love of basketball culture shining through — and a charming Sandler performance. 9th of June, 2022 | 4.8/5 | Full Review