A stripper movie starring Jennifer Lopez? Eh, I could take it or leave it. Until I found out it was inspired by a true story. Like Molly’s Game (about Jeremy Bloom’s sister who ran the an exclusive high-stakes poker game for some of Hollywood’s biggest names, star-level athletes, and big deal businessmen before being arrested by the FBI) and 21 (in which MIT students use their math brilliance to take Vegas for millions), the premise of Hustlers would be ridiculous if it didn’t really happen. Based on a 2015 New York Magazine article, the movie follows a group of strippers in New York City who, after the 2008 financial crisis force their usual Wall Street clients to dial back the obscene spending, steal money by drugging stock traders and CEOs and running up their credit cards.
Although Hustlers is centered on the story of Dorothy aka Destiny (played by Constance Wu), the star of the strip club and the movie is Ramona (played by Lopez). Early on, the audience is brilliantly introduced to her in a scene that is set to Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” – which is perfect for so many reasons. First of all, she is introduced by the club DJ as “the one and only Ramona.” Lopez clearly knows how to make and entrance and that’s exactly what happens. Clad in an “outfit” of silver straps and a glittery hat and cape combo, both of which quickly come off, she is showered with money before she even touches the pole. As she slithers and bounces around the floor and said pole, Destiny looks on with awe and the men watching are so enthralled that each one of them look like would have given Ramona anything she wanted.
Clearly Lopez was made for this role – even if she was only a decent actress her dancing abilities alone make her the perfect person to play Ramona who is the ultimate hustler. While Lopez is usually not my favorite, she is at her best as the queen stripper bee who wants to make as much money as possible to ensure a solid future for herself and her daughter. And Wu is excellent as the little stripper that could who Ramona takes under her wing – stiletto?
Throughout the course of the movie, the ladies experience a variety of ups and downs and most of the plot points are fun and entertaining to watch. One aspect I could have done without were the seemingly countless shots of Ramona and her ladies walking in slow motion. I get it – they are stalking their prey – but one or two of those shots would have been enough. Also, I think it is interesting that Cardi B and Lizzo’s roles in the movie got a lot of publicity because the two of them are barely in the movie. Of course, Ramona has the best lines and here are a few of the most memorable:
“These Wall Street guys, you see what they did to this country? They stole from everybody. Hard working people lost everything, and not one of these douchebags went to jail.”
“Look, there’s nothing I can really say to make sense of what went down. But everybody’s hustling. This city, this whole country, is a strip club. You’ve got people tossing the money, and people doing the dance.”
“The game is rigged, and it does not reward people who play by the rules.”
In a world where everything is a controversy, hate is everywhere, and people get treated poorly for just being themselves, there is something to be said about going to the movies and watching a film that is straight up entertaining. If you’re looking for a good time, see Hustlers.