If you know me, then you know that I have hated most of the films made by Adam Sandler. I can’t say all of them because he had Uncut Gems a few years ago that was really great. It seemed that when Sandler wants to make a movie for an adult instead of for a 13-year old child, he can do good work.
I was still fairly uncertain about Hustle on Netflix. It was released a few weeks ago and I have looked at it several times. I had it on my Netflix queue. I heard some positive word of mouth and yet I was not in a rush to watch it. I just had that sinking feeling.
So when I watched it today on Netflix, I was ready for anything. I am pleased to say that I didn’t just like Hustle, but I found it to be an excellent film.
Stanley Sugarman (Adam Sandler) was a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, on the road constantly looking for that “next big thing” in players while he desperately wanted to be a coach. Team owner Rex Merrick (Robert Duvall) had a special spot in his heart for Stan and gave him an assistant coach position. Unfortunately, Rex died and his obnoxious son Vince (Ben Foster) took over the running of the team.
Vince wanted Stanley to head back out on the road to find the Sixers the final piece for a championship. Not leaving Stanley much of a choice, Stanley headed back out on the road, heading to Spain to scout a specific player. That player was injured and not playing that night, leaving Stan to float around the city on his own. On his travel, he came across an outdoor basketball game where a tall and noticeably skilled player named Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangomez) who was hustling other players for money. Stan saw that Bo had amazing abilities and he followed him to his home for a chance to sign him.
Stan had to go through plenty of adversity to try and get someone to notice the talent that Bo had.
The film is a lot of fun. Adam Sandler gives a extremely mature performance in a role that kept tossing challenges in his way. He had some great chemistry with, not only Juancho Hernangomez, but also with his on-screen wife, Queen Latifah.
Then, as if I wasn’t already enjoying the film, they trotted out “Dr. J” Julius Erving, one of my all-time favorite athletes and the man from where my own nickname came from, in the film a couple of times (Sorry Chris, no Larry Bird).
The film was produced by Sandler and LeBron James and featured a plethora of NBA stars and legends including Charles Barkley, Dirk Nowitzki, Doc Rivers, Mo Cheeks, Anthony Edwards, Seth Curry, Trae Young, Jordan Clarkson, Boban Marjanovic, Luka Doncic, Aaron Gordon, Shaq O’Neal, Tobias Harris, among many others.
If you are an NBA fan, this film is going to be a potpourri of highlights for you. However, you do not have to love the NBA to have this story of the underdog strike you. The film is about redemption. It is about family and how important they are to your life. It is about sticking to it and never giving up something that you love.
My opinion of Adam Sandler would change if he continued making quality entertainment like this.