Original title:Hustle
Director:Jeremiah Zagar
Running time:117 minutes
Release date:03 june 2022
After discovering a unique player with a troubled past overseas, a hapless basketball scout (Adam Sandler) decides to bring the phenom to the U.S. without his team's approval. Against all odds, they get one last chance to prove they have what it takes to succeed in the NBA.

Mulder's Review

Many films have dealt with basketball in cinema with more or less success and have allowed directors to show how this much appreciated sport has enough material to give rise to interesting stories. We will especially remember White Men Can't Jump (1992), Blue Chips (1994), the two Space Jam (1996, 2021) and more recently The Way Back (2020). To this list we will certainly have to add Hustle by Jeremiah Zagar (We the Animals (2019)) is certainly an excellent surprise and can be compared to a successful cross between Rocky and Jerry Maguire. Not only does the script by Taylor Materne and Will Fetters celebrate basketball by delivering a realistic story and above all by relying on an excellent cast in which many basketball players reprise their own roles whether in supporting roles or simple cameos.

Stanley Sugerman (Adam Sandler) is certainly a gifted scout who works for the Philadelphia 76ers and who, because of his job, has had to put his family on the back burner in order to find new talent around the world. A former star player, a car accident he caused under the influence of alcohol cost him his career and left a scar on his hand. Tired of traveling, his ambition is to become a coach and not go on the road to find new talent that will make the Philadelphia 76ers famous. While he had finally landed the job he wanted, the death of Rex Merrick (Robert Duvall) the owner of the basketball team he works for will thwart his new position and he will have to go back on the road again and during one of his trips he will meet Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangómez, a famous NBA player) in Spain.  This excellent streetball player has however a dark past and a judicial case for his violent actions. Bo Cruz is trying to earn a living to help his single mother and his little daughter for whom he had to fight in his past. The meeting between Stanley Sugerman and Bo Cruz will forever change their lives and their passion for gambling will give them a second chance and put them through many difficulties. With the support of Stanley's wife Teresa (Queen Latifah) and her daughter, these two men must overcome their physical limitations and face their worst fears.

Adam Sandler is certainly a chameleon actor who seems to take a malicious pleasure in trying new experiences with more or less success. We will prefer to forget The Ridiculous 6 (2015) Hubie Halloween (2020) to remember his strong interpretations in Big Daddy (1999), Mr. Deeds (2022), Anger Management (2003) or more recently The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017) and especially Uncut Gems (2019). This drama around basketball allows him to deliver a remarkable interpretation of a loser who must face a serious mistake of his part in the past and his desire to have a second chance. 

For those who are passionate about basketball or movies about the sport, Hustle benefits from famous players such as Allen Iverson, Dirk Nowitzki, Doc Rivers, Julius Erving, Mark Cuban, Mark Jackson, Pat Croce, Seth Curry, Shaquille O'Neal, Trae Young, Tyrese Maxey but also from real older legends who gave it its noble notes such as Larry "Bone Collector" Williams and Grayson "The Professor" Boucher. Such a cast easily reinforces our adhesion to this film which shows well the universe of the professional basketball between its plhases of training, its rivalries between players and its numerous financial stakes. Far from the sports comedies like Happy Gilmore (1996) and The Waterboy (1998) in which he played the main role and which were popular American comedies with their picturesque characters, Adam Sandler shows that he is an excellent comedian provided he collaborates with a director who is committed and relies on a mastered script. 

We have known for a long time that this actor was passionate about basketball and sooner or later would find himself in a film dedicated to this sport and to surpassing oneself. However, Hustle does not fall into the simplistic sports film to the glory of basketball but intelligently moves towards a realistic description of a sports environment in which the dirty tricks are numerous. Once again Adam Sandler shows that he is an excellent comedian far from the antics that made his reputation. Behind the comedy, there is a real comedian who excels in dramatic roles and who does not hesitate to leave his tailor-made roles to show all his talent. 

Directed by Jeremiah Zagar
Written by Taylor Materne, Will Fetters
Produced by LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Joe Roth, Joseph Vecsey, Jeff Kirschenbaum, Zack Roth, Adam Sandler, Allen Covert
Starring Adam Sandler, Queen Latifah, Ben Foster, Juancho Hernangómez, Robert Duvall
Cinematography : Zak Mulligan
Edited by Tom Costain, Brian Robinson, Keiko Deguchi
Music by Dan Deacon
Production companies : Happy Madison Productions, SpringHill Company, Roth/Kirschenbaum Films
Distributed by Netflix,
Release date : June 3, 2022 (United States), June 8, 2022 (France)
Running time : 117 minutes

Seen on June 7, 2022 (Netflix press access)

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