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  • Writer's pictureMelanie

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels VS The Hustle : which remake to watch ?

Bedtime Stories (Ralph Levy, 1964) follows two con artist competing against each other for the privilege of working a small town on the French Riviera. This film has since given birth to two remakes, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Frank Oz, 1988) and The Hustle (Chris Adison, 2019).

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels follows the plot of the original while adapting it for the 1980S. Two con men are trying to get 50 000 out of a heiress before the other does which will give the winner the right to stay and work the town Beaumont Sur Mer located on the French Riviera. Michael Caine plays Lawrence Jamieson, a refined british gentleman while Steve Martin plays his competitor Freddy Benson, an ill mannered american. The story is build on the idea that one of them has to get the money all the while they are both being played by the woman they are desperately trying to con. She reveals to be the Jackall, the ultimate con artist they both admire. After spending a whole film making statements about how women are defenseless, naive, corrupt and that they are clever enough to get money out of them, both of them end up losing money, the bet and their dignity to a woman. She was not as defenseless as she looked. It taught them to look beyond appearances and be aware of gender stereotypes.

The Hustle is a remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels directed by Chris Adison. The main change is the female cast for the leads. Anne Hathaway plays Josephine, the feminine version of Caine' Lawrence Jamieson while Rebel Wilson is Penny, Josephine's competitor and Freddy. The stakes are the same except that they need to con a tech wiz out of 50 000 to win and earn the right to stay in the infamous Beaumont Sur Mer. Just as in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Thomas ends up being the bigger con who cons both of them out of their money and ends up being the grand son of Medusa, a con artist both of the women admire. If it might be a good idea to have remakes based on gender swapping, here I found the original more feminist than the female remake. In Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, a woman ends up winning the bet and playing both of these men who thought they were smarter than any woman around. In The Hustle, a man ends up being the ultimate con artist which seems to defeat the purpose.

What message does it send ? In today's world where men still have most of the top positions and where the glass ceiling still exists, there is no point of making a man the winner of the film. It gives off a feeling of "putting these two women back in their place" which I did not't like. That was completely useless.

Also, in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Janet comes back in the very end with a group of rich people and a new scheme in which she includes Lawrence and Freddie. In The Hustle, Thomas comes back too not only with a new scheme but also feelings for Penny. The romance feels like it was a box to tick. As if a film with two female leads has to have some kind of romance. I love romance films but I do not like when it is put in mainly because there are female characters who obviously can not exist without a man.

Also why not get a female director for the female version ? Why do a female remake but not get a female director and a female writer for the adaptation of the script or the rewrite ? Otherwise, instead of being clever and feminist, it ends up being how men think a female version would look like. It ends up being full of clichés and stereotypes that could have been avoided with some women on the team. Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway are brilliant but this film does not do them justice. Gender-swapping is not enough.

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