Movie: Hustle

Plot: A basketball scout discovers a phenomenal street ball player while in Spain and sees the prospect as his opportunity to get back into the NBA.

Cast: Adam Sandler, Queen Latifah, Juancho Hernangomez, and Ben Foster

Release Date: June 8, 2022

Studio: Netflix HCA

Overall Grade: B

David Gonzalez says, “Yes, Hustle contains the usual sports tropes, but it’s an exhilarating ride that will leave you longing to leave the bleachers and jump on the court. Adam Sandler blends his comedic and dramatic repertoire to give an all-star take, while Juancho Hernangomez shines.”

Grade: B+

Mark Johnson says, “On the surface, Hustle is a delightful and heartwarming buddy movie – a traditional sports flick full of David and Goliath battles, training montages, and the heart-stopping thrills of on-court action. But it’s much more than that. Beneath the surface lies a subtle father/son element that comes off exceptionally well, as both men seem to have found in one another exactly what their counterparts needed. Their connection is the magic behind the film.”

Grade: B

Jill Munroe says, “Adam Sandler stars as Stanley Sugerman. A down-on-his-luck scout for the 76ers who meets the next big thing in Spanish basketball star Bo Cruz. While the concept isn’t original as far as sports dramas go, this one is authentic, with solid performances and great basketball action. Hustle features Queen Latifah as Sugerman’s wife, plus several cameos from current and former NBA players, including a villain-like performance from Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards.”

Grade: B

Catherine Springer says, “LeBron James is a producer on the film, which, along with Sandler’s star power and Netflix’s deep pockets, allowed Hustle to be the be-all, end-all of basketball movies. Hustle doesn’t try to do too much. It tells enough of a story and offers enough of an acting challenge for Sandler to prove critically sound, but, for most of the film, Sandler is wise to just step back and admire his idols as they do their thing—and hopes the audience will do the same.”

Grade: B

Francisco Cangiano says, “Hustle is a solid ‘underdog with lots of heart’ sports drama. Easily, Adam Sandler’s best performance since Uncut Gems. Juancho Hernangómez did a fantastic job as well – a great find. Yes, it’s got the trappings and cliches of the sub-genre, but when your execution and performances are this good, it definitely tips the balance to your favor.”

Grade: B-

Debbie Elias says, “Hustle is a very good film; in fact, screw very good. It is a three-point midcourt shot 10 times over. A “must-see” and then you’ll want to see the instant replay. Sandler has solidified himself as a double threat as both a dramatic actor and comedy king, proving that Uncut Gems wasn’t just a one-off. The story is filled with heart and warmth. Very Rocky-esque with Sandler assuming the Mickey role but exhibiting more warmth and kindness than Burgess Meredith brought to Mickey. The paternal relationship between Sandler’s Stanley Sugarmen and Juancho Hernangomez’s Bo Cruz carries the film as Stanley fights for his own career with the 76ers. Queen Latifah is almost a throwaway as Sugarmen’s wife. Ben Foster is so effective as the entitled son of the 76ers owner (Robert Duvall in a sweet cameo) who passes away so the reins are handed over to Junior, that you just want to reach into the screen and strangle that arrogant smirk off of his face. Hustle is filled with basketball legends of days gone by as well as the present with almost all of them playing themselves! It’s a Who’s Who of Hoops! And boy did I love seeing Dr. J aka Julius Erving make a key appearance in the film. Director is South Philly native Jeremiah Zagar and I can think of no one better to direct this film than him. Hustle bleeds love for Philly both in the story and with location lensing. Some really fun one-liners pop up about Philly sports fans and other traditional Philly traits. Works so well. Cinematography is fabulous, particularly training sequence montages a la Rocky but amped up thanks to killer editing by Happy Madison editing collaborators Tom Costain and Brian Robinson. Beautiful prismatic lens flares come into play for deliberate emotional effect. Cinematographer Zak Mulligan worked with Zagar prior on We Are the Animals and that ease of a knowing collaborative visual grammar is evident with Hustle. A very eclectic score in terms of instrumentation with certain motifs while needle drops set the perfect tone and energy. An underdog story that at every level celebrates hard work, hustle, and following your dreams. And at the end of it all, how can I not love a film where the hero plays a fellow Temple Owl.“

Grade: A

Jeandra LeBeauf says, “Hustle is a gem of a redemption story powered by a stellar cast. Adam Sandler is memorable and endearing with Queen Latifah at his side matching his energy. Newcomer Juancho Hernangomez makes a splash in his first film and looks to be on the road to many more roles in the future. A solid family film.”

Grade: B+

Peggy Marie says, “With big-name basketball stars flitted throughout the film, Sandler for the first time in a long while, brought his A-game to this one. While it’s a good watch, I do think you need to be a huge basketball fan to really know who they all are, but the heart and meaning of the film can be enjoyed by all.”

Grade: B

Zoë Rose Bryant says, “Against all odds, I fell head-over-heels for Hustle. I couldn’t know less about basketball, but its sharp script, deft direction, and pair of powerful performances from Adam Sandler and Juancho Hernangómez will earn your interest whether you’re a fan or not. A slam dunk success.”

Grade: B+

Jana N Nagase says, “I loved the film, for real! Incredible montage/editing scenes, beautiful cinematography, and the score from Dan Deacon is amazing. Love to see real basketball players acting with Adam Sandler who gives a potent performance. Also, I loved all the cameos. I watched the film with my son, who is a huge basketball fan, and it made all the difference because he recognized all the players, old and new. The director Jeremiah Zagar nailed the directing and you can see his style through the film.”

Grade: A-

Rodrigo Salem says, “A solid sports movie with another good performance of Adam Sandler. It’s predictable and checks all the beats, but it’s as entertaining as an NBA playoff.”

Grade: B

Hustle is streaming on Netflix