Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Cardi B, Usher, Mercedes Ruehl, Lizzo
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Rating * * *
Does one have to be a prissy stuffed shirt to disapprove of men who exploit women and women who exploit their sexuality? This flick based on a 2015 New York magazine article negotiates objectivity and empathy while addressing themes of female friendship and empowerment.
It’s a pity though that ‘empowerment’ sometimes steers women towards crime as seen in a movie like Ocean’s 8 to cite just one example. That the titular protagonists refuse to be victimised by sleaze balls is commendable. Certainly, these pathetic fellows who neglect family to blow up money in strip clubs deserve a comeuppance.
Still, your reviewer must confess to feeling sorry for a couple of unfortunates who are taken to the cleaners by glam stripper Ramona (Jennifer Lopez, terrific) her protege Destiny (Constance Wu) and their gang.
Their justification is familial obligations and the 2008 economic crash which forces them to consider alternative sources of income: A euphemism for cheating. As Ramona sums it, the Wall Street crash wiped out millions but no one went to jail. And so, the amoral sisterhood rips off their horny wealthy clients.
As the eldest “sister” Ramona, Lopez oozes sex appeal and more importantly, alpha femaleness. A couple of pole /lap “dancing” sequences will have male viewers salivating. Writer-director Lorene Scafaria helms a script that does what the Demi Moore movie “Striptease” did some years ago: depict the strippers as very family-oriented and supportive of each other.
Perhaps Hustlers is staying faithful to its source material, the article by Jessica Pressler, but it fails to address the real life dangerous consequences of the job: rape, assault, torture, murder by psychotic and pathologically disturbed men. When it comes to being steamy and raunchy though, “Hustlers” goes All Out.