Hustle: Movie Review

Hustle Movie Review: Adam Sandler Goes for Clutch

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There's a scene in the film where Adam Sandler talks about doing what you love. And it seems that in "Hustle", he is doing things that he actually loves. And it shows. This film classified as a sports drama comedy is very far from what you typically expect from Adam Sandler. This was authentic, this had heart, and this had convincing performances from those involved - even the professional athletes and personalities themselves. This is more "Uncut Gems" than "Water Boy" and we absolutely loved it.

Stanley Sugerman (Adam Sandler) is a scout for the NBA team Philadelphia 76ers. He has spent most of his professional life on the road as he scours the globe for hidden talent. On a trip to Spain, Stanley stumbles upon a streetball player named Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangomez) who dominated everyone he played against with. Seeing the generational talent that Bo possesses, Stanley tries his best to convince his boss to take a gamble. But his boss rejects the idea of getting a complete unknown basketball player without any amateur or professional cred. Stanley decides to risk it all for Bo, taking all of the expenses, to bring Bo to America and get him drafted in the upcoming NBA Draft.

Adam Sandler has certainly found a groove when it comes to his more serious roles. And we were happy to find out that "Hustle" was the real deal when it came to its dramatic inclinations. Saying this was a comedy is kinda overselling it actually, and while there are the standard Sandler quips, the comedy here takes the bench most of its running time. At least they weren't over-the-top and over-bearing to impact a scene or an interaction and was handled very well. What's over-the-top though was this film's authentic vibe. It featured real-life NBA and sports personalities that will make any basketball fan drool but what made this film one of the biggest surprise Netflix releases for us was that it also got real basketball players to play the game. Juancho Hernangomez here was a revelation as an actor. He was relatable as the dirt-poor but talented Bo Cruz, convincing in his most intimate scenes, had great chemistry with Sandler, and handled his part as a basketball phenom just perfectly. If we have a gripe with the film was that this was still heavily-clichéd in a lot of ways and the main points of conflicts just simmered away conveniently by the time the climactic scenes came through. We also felt that while the film tackled the ugliness of the modern NBA, like how the media overblows issues to make a narrative out of nothing, most of these were one and done scenes that never really showcased their gravity to the personal lives of players. We didn't expect this but "Hustle" actually makes our personal list of top sports films ever. 

Rating: 4 and a half reels

Why you should watch it:
- by featuring actual players, coaches, and personalities, this film simply felt real and authentic
- outstanding performances from Adam Sandler and surprisingly, Juancho Hernangomez

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- like any sports drama, this had some of its cliché moments
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