Struggling to make enough money to take care of herself and her grandmother, Destiny (Constance Wu) works as a stripper. Being the new girl at the club, Destiny doesn’t get the respect or clientele the other girls get. Once everyone running the club takes their cut, she is left with very little. Desperate to increase her income, she introduces herself to Ramona (Jennifer Lopez). Ramona is the top dancer at the club. Ramona takes Destiny under her wing and mentors her to be a better dancer.
When the economy collapses in 2008, everyone is hit hard. The once generous Wall Street clientele at the club dries up. The few customers who do come to the club are spending less and expecting more. The dancers are forced to find other jobs to hopefully make ends meet. Now raising a daughter on her own and still struggling to help her grandma, Destiny makes her way back to the club, not quite willing to do what the others girls do to make money.
When Destiny and Ramona reunite after not seeing each other for a few years, it’s as if they had never been apart. Ramona has come up with a plan to bring back their glory days, making lots of money off the wealthy men in the city. Ramona and Destiny recruit Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) and Mercedes (Keke Palmer), two of the girls they used to work with, and begin raking in the cash. Things quickly spiral out of control, leaving the girls scrambling.
Inspired by true events, Hustlers tells the story of a group of strippers determined to live the high life, no matter the cost.
One problem with telling a true story is that you sometimes find yourself trying to cram a story into and hour and a half, maybe two hours. Hustlers finds itself in the unique position that it is somehow both too long and too short. It struggles to find its pacing. It spends the first half of the movie building up the developing relationships between the women. There are plenty of genuine and funny moments in this first half. Cardi B, Lizzo, Lili Reinhart, and the rest of the crew seem to really be having fun. As expected, Jennifer Lopez owns the stage and screen in every aspect. And while I like Constance Wu, this isn’t a role I feel really fits her. She seems a little too awkward and out of place.
The second half of the film is where things seem to take a long time to rush through. The story quickly escalates out of control as the women step up their plans. The writers don’t seem to know what they want to focus on, so they linger on some moments and completely gloss over others. The film clocks in at 1 hour 49 minutes. If they had maybe taken it up to a full 2 hours, they could have evened out the pacing a bit. As it stands, it is a very long feeling 109 minutes.
There is plenty to like about Hustlers. The cast is great. The funny moments are truly funny. The story is crazy. The movie just can’t find its footing, leaving it a bit lacking. If you’re desperate to get out of the house this weekend, this isn’t a bad movie, it’s just one that can wait for the Redbox.