‘Hustle’ review: Adam Sandler scores in a thrilling basketball drama

Years before “Uncut Gems”, you could see Adam Sandler being a good actor. Back in “Punch-Drunk Love” (2002), he was out of the “haha” section and back in “The Wedding Singer” (1998), his big hit after two knocks on the door. Hit slapstick (“Billy Madison” and “Happy Gilmore”), he has shown a desire to add a little real-world nuance to his comedic antics. Let’s not be snobby about this: In his way, Sandler wasn’t without his stellar performance in “Water Boy” (the greatest of his dumbest/smart “classics”). Having said that, his performance in “Uncut Gems” as an obsessive, self-destructive spieler-chiseler-gambler working in New York’s diamond district feels like it was cut from another gem – it belongs Scorsese’s film. For me, it was the best performance of 2019, and from that moment on, it’s not so accurate to say that Adam Sandler is a good actor. He will be a great actor.

“Hustle” is a gripping basketball drama set to air on Netflix on June 8 and features Sandler’s first major performance since “Uncut Gems.” Given the extraordinary strength and audacity of the Safdie Brothers films, the new film sounds like a definite return to the more traditional Sandler films. In many ways it is; it’s a traditionally uplifting, family-friendly sports movie. Yet even in films like this, we see Sandler as a metamorphosed actor, with more than a shred of his “uncut” talent. “The Hustle” is fictional, but it often feels like a real drama (thanks in part to an extraordinary roster of NBA players and colleagues in their own right), which fits with Adam Sandler’s new authenticity , he has learned to pour every bit of himself into a character.

With a sullen black beard and a sullen smile, he plays Stanley Sugarman, a veteran Philadelphia 76ers scout who still loves the game but is actually sick of him being on the road life, flying around the world in search of the next breakthrough basketball star. Stanley stayed in five-star hotels, but they all blended together, and no matter what country he was in, he liked American junk food. He’s a grumpy business traveler dutifully looking for matches, but otherwise killing time, spending more time with his wife Teresa (Queen Latifah) and teenage daughter than he’d like It will take a few more weeks and months.

One evening in Spain, he wandered into a street court packed with spectators. Most of them were there to watch Bo Cruz (Juan Joe Hernangomez of the Utah Jazz), a tall construction worker whose defense was like a speeding wall and dunks like a Hydraulic drill. Within minutes, Stanley knew he had found a superstar. But can he convince his boss (Ben Foster), the corporate owner of the Sixers who had just taken over the team following the death of his own father (Robert Duvall), Stanley’s mentor ? Can Bo, an unpolished talent and innate hothead with no formal basketball training and aggressive beliefs, find the right stuff — and a cool head — to take on seasoned NBA players? All of this is easier said than done.

“Hustle” is a companion drama set in unfamiliar lands around the slow-growing bond between Stanley, a lisp man, and Beau, a brooding, taciturn basketball wizard. In various places, it might remind you of sports movies from the formulaic Jon Hamm agitator “Million Dollar Arm” to “Jerry Maguire.” The film even pays homage to “Rocky” when Stanley trains Bo by having him jog day after day on a residential hill in Philadelphia.

However, “Hustle” has its own totally satisfying, and at times, mesmerizing texture. There’s a lot of basketball, but no big games, and actually no team-to-team games — it’s all workouts and tryouts, and the showcase basketball decathlon known as the NBA draft complex, with director Jeremiah Zagar shooting the dynamic verve and Skill. “Hustle” doesn’t rewrite any rules, but the movie’s healthy allure is that you believe what you’re seeing — in part because of the presence of dozens of players from aging legends Dr. J to Trae Young to Kyle Lowry. But It’s also because of Sandler’s inner sadness as Stanley, the mix of exhaustion and grit, and a stubborn belief in the game that leaves you moved, thrilled, and completely convinced.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *