The Hustle has a pair of charming leads, but it's only a decent facsimile of one of the funniest movies ever made.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels itself was a remake of a '60s comedy called Bedtime Story, but the roles of a suave British con artist and a low-life American huckster fit Michael Caine and Steve Martin like gloves. It's a little bit of a stretch to slot Anne Hathaway in there, though Rebel Wilson is perfectly trashy as an Australian crook. Together, they're a great odd couple. But The Hustle hits the exact same story beats in the exact same order, only briefly switching what happens to whom at the film's climax.
Hathaway plays Josephine, an elite swindler of rich bozos who can't help but be dazzled by her beauty. Wilson is her new rival: Penny, an Australian catfisher who cons men with sob stories about her sick and/or kidnapped (hotter) sister. After some cross-sabotage and a humorous training montage, they agree to one final bet: the first person to filch $500,000 out of a designated mark wins, and the loser will have to leave their gorgeous beach town forever.
They settle on a tech bro named Thomas (Tony winner Alex Sharp), who dresses like Mark Zuckerberg and has a dorky personality to match. In Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the mark was played with impressive skill and comic timing by the late Glenne Headly. Let's just say that here, Sharp is no Glenne Headly. Now, if you've seen Scoundrels, you know where this is going: Penny fakes a psychosomatic condition, which she claims can only be cured by the non-existent Dr. Schaffhausen. Josephine then pretends to be Schaffhausen, using their treatment sessions as a chance to torture Penny, swooping in try to steal the money and seduce Thomas herself.
The film is merely a copy, but its updates make it feel very of the moment, and there are plenty of laughs along the way. Where it fails is in its attempts to humanize our grifters. We don't need the film to reinforce that men are horndogs who deserve to be conned. These ladies don't need any backstory or justification for their schemes at all. Seeing them in action is most of the fun.