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Film Review: Game Recognize Game in 'Hustlers'

by Todd A. Smith

 

Constance Wu (left) and Jennifer Lopez star in “Hustlers” (Photo Credit: Motion Picture Artwork/STX Financing, LLC).

 

 

N Luv (Wit a Stripper) Movie 

 

1/2


On the hit song, “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper),” T-Pain sang, “She got the body of a goddess, everybody know that, super cute face and the booty so fat, I’m in the club dropping 24 stacks, cause I’m in love and that’s a well known fact.”


While I’m not in enough love with the movie “Hustlers” to drop $24 thousand, I do love the movie “Hustlers” enough to drop some money to see it even though I saw the press screening for free.


“Hustlers” combines ruthlessness, scandal and the right amount of compassion to humanize an industry that many see as lewd, crude and demeaning to women.


However, the industry is often filled with women from impoverished backgrounds trying like hell to provide a better life for themselves, their children and sometimes their parents or grandparents.


In “Hustlers,” Destiny (Constance Wu) did not grow up with a silver spoon in her mouth to say the least.


Her parents abandoned her at a young age.


Therefore, her grandmother (Wai Ching Ho) had to raise Destiny despite her own financial constraints.


Destiny’s grandmother has mountains of debt.


Her house is still not paid off.


As a result, Destiny desperately wants to help her grandmother.


But with just a GED and no discernible job skills, Destiny has no hopes of earning the type of money her grandmother needs to keep her head above water.


Destiny has a job at a strip club.


But she is not that good at that either.


A little birdie once told me that not all strippers make a plethora of money at the strip club.


Someone once told me that dudes at the strip club curve some girls as they desperately ask to do lap dances in a thirsty manner.


Therefore, that desire to get rich quick does not always work for those women not blessed with the requisite skills or visual image.


Although Destiny is like Destiny’s Child without Beyoncé at the strip club initially, getting no love, the star of the club Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) takes the novice under her wings and turns a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.


And Ramona’s wings are filled with fur coats at a lavish New York apartment.


Ramona and Destiny do not work at just any strip club in Middle America.


The new dynamic duo of exotic dancers work at an upscale New York gentlemen’s club in the heart of Manhattan, N.Y.


Their clientele is not a bunch of creepy losers who cannot get a date.


The client base that comes to their club are investment bankers, venture capitalists and Wall Street executives with money to burn and no rules to contain their desire for a lavish and raucous lifestyle.


When Ramona and Diamond (Cardi B) teach Destiny how to appear alluring to men in order to secure that bag, she goes from not being able to help her grandmother much to paying off her debt and paying off her mortgage.


Destiny starts buying luxury purses with all one-dollar bills.


She gets engaged patrons to buy her computers.


And Ramona is even influencing Destiny to consider going back to school so that she can have a career when she no longer can strip.


But big balling does not last always.


When the stock market crashes, the dreams of the upscale exotic dancers crash as well.


They no longer live high on the hog, probably surviving on the pig intestines instead.


Many of the ladies eventually leave the stripping business to take normal nine to fives.


But when many cannot make ends meet, let alone maintain their extravagant lifestyles, they return to the club like a crack head running back to the crack house after a stint at rehab.


However, the stock market crash has ruined the success of the club.


No longer experiencing the glory days before the Great Recession, the club has a few regulars.


Nevertheless, the money is not the same as many of the Wall Street executives no longer work in high-paying jobs or are just more prudent with their money.


But desperate times call for desperate measures and true hustlers never stop looking for an angle to work to bring in more money.


Ramona, Destiny, Mercedes (Keke Palmer) and Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) devise a scandalous plot to drug men at local bars, take them back to their old strip club and run their credit cards sky high at the club.


In return, the club will give the ladies a cut of what the unsuspecting men “spend” at the gentlemen’s club.


Unfortunately, the ladies might create more problems than profits with their latest ploy to get money.


The gig runs into problems because no man wants a woman to hustle him and get away with it.


While other movies like “The Player’s Club” and “Showgirls” depicted the lifestyle of the stripper, “Hustlers” is arguably the only one that might leave moviegoers with conflicted emotions.


Audiences will fall in love with the lives of Destiny, Ramona, Mercedes and Annabelle, all based on true stories told through a magazine interview with journalist, Elizabeth (Julia Stiles).


But, the same audiences will hate the hustle that they try to run against innocent men.


While some strip club patrons might objectify and disrespect women, should a woman’s quest for revenge and money extend to men that they had no bad run-ins with at the club?


Despite the conflicted feelings that “Hustlers” produces, the acting performances should not produce any conflicted emotions.


Wu kills her performance in “Hustlers.”


J-Lo kills her performance in “Hustlers” and is getting Oscar buzz for her role.


Even Palmer comes across as a convincing conniving exotic dancer.


Palmer has a reputation of a good girl, but her devilish qualities are believable in “Hustlers.


On the contrary, years ago when Keisha Knight Pulliam tried to distance herself from the good girl image from “The Cosby Show” in “Madea Goes to Jail” very few bought her performance as a prostitute.


Regina King had the same dilemma after playing Brenda on the sitcom, “227.”


Nobody believed she could play a ghetto girl in “Boyz N The Hood” until she killed that performance.


While Palmer’s performance in “Hustlers” is nowhere near King’s performance in “Boyz N The Hood, she does a good enough job to pull off the portrayal.


Nevertheless, it will be Lopez’s performance as a stripper with a heart, despite sometimes being heartless, that audiences truly love.


Her role as a stripper is equally alluring, despicable and motherly in “Hustlers.”


To put it bluntly, what’s not to love about J-Lo portraying a stripper on the big screen?

 

 

REGAL RATINGS

FOUR CROWNS=EXCELLENT

THREE CROWNS=GOOD

TWO CROWNS=AVERAGE

ONE CROWN=POOR


This article was published on Friday 13 September, 2019.
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