Review by Adam Donato
Anybody who knows anything about Adam Sandler’s personal life knows that he loves the game of basketball. Hustle is a Happy Madison movie that is a bit more dramatic than his usual fare. Ever since Uncut Gems, critics have started to take Sandler more seriously. Hustle is another step in a more respectable direction as it allows for his comedic chops to show out, but also requires some seriousness. Sandler plays Stanley Sugerman, a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers. His goal is to become a coach in the NBA, but faces adversity in the form of the new head of the organization. When Sugerman is forced back into scouting, he discovers a young streetballer with mad skills that might just be good enough to make the NBA. Sugerman dedicates himself to coaching this kid to try to make it to the big time. Can Adam Sandler keep his hot streak going?
Sandler is pretty good in Hustle. This is definitely him in his element since, as previously stated, he’s a basketball fan in real life. Not only does Sandler star in the movie, but he also produced it with LeBron James, interestingly enough. It’s reasonable to assume that this was more of a passion project than his recent Netflix comedies. The role is not unlike his career defining role in Uncut Gems as he is sports obsessed and constantly struggling as it seems as though the entire world is against him. His character is very sympathetic and admirable despite his shortcomings. He’s got solid chemistry with his co-star, Juancho Hernangomez.
The plot was as generic as sports plots come. An underdog faces insurmountable odds to make it to the top, but montages his way through enough workouts to get himself into the right shape. What makes the standard plot feel fresh is the amount of actual NBA personalities they got to be a part of the movie. Anthony Edwards, up and coming star for the Minnesota Timberwolves, plays the antagonistic consensus number one overall pick. Funny enough, he has a good performance in his limited role. The end of the movie flexes the litany of stars currently in the league along with former legends of the game. This goes a long way into making the plot feel legit.
There’s enough of a genuine connection and NBA legitimacy to make Hustle a solid option. Let’s certainly hope Sandler continues the trajectory his career is currently on. He’s already in talks to star in the next Safdie Brothers movie, which is a great sign. Longtime fans of Adam Sandler know that he has genuine dramatic chops. It’s contagious watching his love for the game in this movie and overall a feel good sports movie. Fans of basketball make sure to check this movie out on Netflix.
Hustle is now in theaters and hits Netflix on June 8.