Hustlers, starring Jennifer Lopez as a stripper who goes smooth criminal during the Great Recession, is getting great reviews.
Alas, I find it derivative, boring and hampered by a shallow script. So … why has the film, directed by Lorene Scafaria, been receiving Scorsese comparisons (Hey, it has tracking shots!) and high scores on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer? I’m thinking it must be because of power of Jennifer Lopez’s multi-million-dollar ass.
There’s no question: Lopez is a talented actress (including good performances in Selena and Out of Sight; shit, I even liked her in Maid in Manhattan). But her calling card has always been her much-ballyhooed ass. Her ass beckons to you like an evil genie. Her ass has its own economy and solar system. In fact, as Jennifer Lopez did a pole dance in this film (for the obligatory “This is how you pole dance!” scene), I could swear I saw a little astronaut just off to the left of her ass performing a spacewalk.
This is a movie in which Lopez often displays her crazily potent ass. She’s held it back at the movies until now, but it is the most dominant character in this cinematic experience. So, I’m thinking this has caused some sort of distraction—a disruption, if you will—in the movie-critic ecosystem. People they are so hypnotized by her ass that they are failing to recognize that movie kind of stinks.
Based on a true story that appeared in a New York Magazine article, Hustlers focuses on Destiny (Constance Wu), a newbie stripper trying to find her way in the big city. It appears she’s stuck in the minor leagues of lap dancing—until Ramona (Lopez) takes the stage and shows her how to take control of her situation through determination, calculation and, yes, showcasing your cosmically empowered ass.
Because most of their big tickets come from Wall Street, the Great Recession hits them hard. That’s when a team consisting of Destiny, Ramona and some other girl who always vomits when things get tense go rogue: They go fishing for suckers that they can drug while they max out their credit cards.
At this point, the film hints at becoming something interesting, but the crimes these girls commit aren’t all that compelling. They drug a couple of high rollers; they max out a few cards; and that’s it. I was waiting for them to kill somebody or pull off a major diamond heist—anything to justify this movie beyond the gratuitous exhibition of Jennifer Lopez’s ass.
Wu is good here, and Lopez’s Ramona has the makings of an interesting character. None of the characters really talk all that much, and just when things seem like they will get interesting, the story goes flat. It’s also worth mentioning that when this movie goes flat, Lopez’s ass goes into hiding, like a fat bear with a bellyful of honey hibernating for the winter.
As stripper movies go, this is far from the worst. Hell, it might even be the best one. It’s better than Showgirls, which featured Elizabeth Berkley’s strange ass at its core. (I still have nightmares where it is trying to kill me.) Striptease with Demi Moore is a non-starter, for her ass, although enviable, didn’t possess any powers that I could detect.
There’s another great Jennifer Lopez movie to be had, but Hustlers isn’t it. It will forever be known as the film where Jennifer Lopez said, “Ah, screw it!” and finally unleashed her greatest physical asset upon the world of film. For some, that will be enough.
Hustlers is now playing at theaters across the valley.