A 50-something scout for a leading NBA team tirelessly flies around the world to find the ‘next big basketball star’. But when he does accidentally discover a Spanish construction worker who plays like a dream, his new boss doesn’t trust his gut. Adam Sandler plays lead Stanley Sugerman in 2022 Netflix sports drama ‘Hustle’, which feels like a long but engaging promotional campaign for NBA.
Directed by Jeremiah Zagar, and written by Will Fetters Taylor Materne, the plot is quite formulaic. However, the movie manages to be free from cringe-y cliches and stars a string of real-life professional NBA players, who make all the basketball scenes/face-offs riveting to watch. Second lead Juancho Hernangomez (a basketball star in real life) plays the towering Bo Cruz, Sugerman’s accidental find, who looks intimidating but exudes the aura of a gentle giant. Together with Sandler, the two make this Netflix offering work.
‘Hustle’ is a little like ‘Karate Kid’ for basketball fans, where Stanley Sugerman plays Sensei to the talented Spanish kid, waking him up at 4 am every day and grooming him work his ass off to shine on the court. Sport enthusiasts should be thrilled with the film since the makers keep emotional drama to the bare minimum and focus more on the athletic side of things. Cinematographer Zak Mulligan has done a fantastic job with filming the basketball sequences, they are clean-cut and capture the essence of the game.
Sandler delivers a measured performance full of heart, and looks every bit the wayworn Stanley Sugerman, who just wants to be able to spend more time with wife Teresa (Queen Latifa in a sweet cameo) and teen daughter Alex (Jordan Hull) and not live the nomadic life of an NBA scout. Juancho Hernangomez obviously turned out to be the surprise package, despite having no acting background, he plays the hardworking emotional Bo Cruz to perfection.
There’s a touch of reality to ‘Hustle’, which works both for and against the film. It works because the struggles and frustrations of the characters feel relatable, yet the mundane element of reality also makes the climax a little underwhelming – because there’s no extraordinary twist or conflict in the end. So, you don’t have an emotional climactic drumming that will make you want to grab tissues or have your heart in knots. Yet, it’s a movie worth watching.
It’s a 7/10 from me.
Subscribe to our podcast on YouTube by the same name – AbstractAF
Listen to – Love Death + Robots Vol 3 Quick Review