The wife and I rarely see movies in the theater these days. It's a biproduct of three children, total exhaustion, price gouging, and "hey my TV has things on it in color right there!" We made an exception and ventured out to see "American Hustle", the new David O. Russell film starring just about everyone. Bobby De Niro is even in the movie for about 4 minutes. Louis C.K. stars in the movie for a few scenes, as does Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradly Cooper, and Jeremy Renner. They are the stars listed in the IMDB roster, but the real stars are 1970's hair and Amy Adams' legs. Take those two, err three things out and we've really just got a bleak New Jersey landscape and some cars. We can also add various fur coats and Amy Adams' breasts, at least lots of side shots of her breasts to the cast as well. They feature prominently.
Rotten Tomatoes gave the Hustle a solid 94%. Bear in mind "The Outlaw Josey Wales" hit at 94%, "Full Metal Jacket" scored at 94%, "Fargo" was a 94%'er, "Moneyball" and "The King's Speech" both came in at 94%. That's lofty praise for a movies who's biggest characters have no lines and sometimes don't even wear shoes.
It's not that nothing happens in "American Hustle" it's just that nothing really good happens in "American Hustle." The majority of the budget appears to have gone to costumes and securing enough horse hair to maintain an amazing collection of wigs. It's as though everyone thought if we can somehow get all these stars in a period piece we'll have a hit. They've succeeded at having a hit, but they haven't made a good movie.
The Abscam operation was a pivotal moment in public corruption investigation and prosecution in this country and this movie, admittedly, loosely bases off the Abscam sting. Then it gets so caught up in slow motion shots, a driving 70's rock/disco soundtrack and Amy Adams' various body parts that the plot, the story, the momentum, all get trampled. At 94% I shouldn't walk out wondering "was that any good?"
While we're at it, are Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence good at you know, acting? The more I question, the more I think the answer is no. By the way, I've seen Silver Linings Playbook, it was good. I didn't start wearing trashbags and move to Philly, but it was a solid B.
Back to the Hustle. In con game movies there's always that gotcha moment where the audience gets sucked in and we go hook line and sinker until boom, the director shows us where we lost the ball under the cup. I look forward to these moments. "The Usual Suspects" slow played us into believing the devil existed outside the interview room. Spoiler alert, he didn't. Even the Oceans 11, 12, and 13 movies have some decent sleight of hand moments. The Hustle doesn't give us a boom, more or less just a meh. Nothing to write home about or to justify a solid A on the old tomato meter.
But hey, it was awesome at 70's hair and filming Amy Adams' legs. So I guess there's that.