- 1 hr 25 min
Hustle is a sports drama film released in 2022 that expertly combines the gritty reality of professional basketball scouting with the inspiring storytelling often found in underdog narratives. The movie, featuring a standout performance from Adam Sandler and bolstered by the genuine presence of Queen Latifah and Juancho Hernangómez, is a heartening tale of tenacity, perseverance, and the relentless pursuit of dreams despite insurmountable odds.
Adam Sandler stars as Stanley Sugerman, a washed-up basketball scout for the Philadelphia 76ers, whose love for the game endures despite the years of road-weary travel and the frustration of being distant from his family, including his devoted wife, Teresa, played by Queen Latifah. Sandler’s portrayal of Sugerman is nuanced and heartrending, providing a depth to the character that engages audiences far beyond the typical sports movie archetype. Queen Latifah delivers a strong performance as Teresa, who offers both emotional support and grounding for Stanley, reminding him of what truly matters in life.
The narrative centers around Sugerman’s discovery of a raw but phenomenally talented basketball player, Bo Cruz, played by real-life NBA player Juancho Hernangómez, in Spain. Cruz is an unpolished diamond, a construction worker with a towering frame and a natural flair for the game who dreams of elevating his young daughter’s life and breaking free from his stifling circumstances.
The chemistry between Sandler and Hernangómez drives much of the film's emotional heft. Sugerman recognizes Cruz’s potential as his last chance at redemption both professionally and personally. As he takes the young Spaniard under his wing, a mentor-student relationship burgeons into a deeply personal bond. This relationship is driven by shared aspirations and an unspoken understanding of the sacrifices required to achieve what only a few dare to dream.
Director Jeremiah Zagar, known for his documentary aesthetic, infuses the film with a sense of authenticity so vital to its immersive experience. Through handheld shots and close-ups, Zagar manages to capture the personal struggles of Sugerman and Cruz against the backdrop of adrenaline-filled basketball courts and the high-stakes world of NBA talent spotting.
The drama unfolds as Stanley hustles to introduce Bo to the harsh realities of basketball in the United States, starting from the ground up and dealing with the skepticism of those who see Bo's background as a disadvantage. The movie’s title, Hustle, encapsulates the essence of what both characters must do – grind, fight, and push through barriers in pursuit of their passion for basketball.
The authenticity of the basketball scenes in Hustle is notable, as many cameos from current and former NBA personalities enrich the movie with a genuine sense of the sport’s culture and community. These include basketball figures such as Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and several active NBA players, adding an insider's touch to the film's environment and narrative.
Hustle is not just about the love for basketball, but it also explores the themes of family, loyalty, and the immense cultural and personal challenges that come with leaving one's familiar world behind for the American dream. The film deftly balances gritty realism with emotionally charged sequences, pacing the story in such a manner that audiences can't help but root for Sugerman and Cruz to overcome the seemingly insurmountable hurdles in their path.
The screenplay, penned by Taylor Materne and Will Fetters, deftly combines the sports genre with a poignant drama, resulting in a narrative that sustains the tension and excitement of a close basketball game along with the emotional gravitas of a well-crafted human story. Audiences will appreciate the witty, sharp dialogue alongside heartwarming moments, crafting a cinematic journey that is both enthralling and touching.
Hustle's strengths also include its deft handling of familial themes. Stanley’s rapport with his wife and daughter portrays the complications of balancing personal ambitions with family responsibilities, driving home the significance of a support system in the pursuit of success.
The music and sound design of Hustle are also instrumental in setting the tone, weaving energy and emotion into every scene to foster an atmosphere that sticks with the viewer well after the credits roll.
In conclusion, Hustle stands out as an emotionally stirring and atmospherically rich sports drama. With its well-rounded performances, authentic portrayal of the sporting landscape, and an inspiring narrative of perseverance and dreams, the movie becomes more than just a sports film; it becomes a story of human ambition and the depth of the human spirit. Through the lens of basketball, Hustle conveys a universal message on the importance of hustling for one's dreams against all odds, ensuring its place as a memorable and impactful addition to the genre.
Hustle is a 2022 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 25 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.3 and a MetaScore of 68.