They’re a couple of dirty, rotten … ladies?

The latest comedy to receive a needless gender-switch is the 1988 film “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” which itself was a remake of 1964’s “Bedtime Story” starring Marlon Brando. In “The Hustle,” actors Michael Caine and Steve Martin are unceremoniously shown the door by actresses Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson.

But as far as who will own these roles in the hearts and minds of future audience members, Caine and Martin can rest easy on the Riviera: “The Hustle” is just a loony con-job that comes up short on being convincing.

The main culprit is Hathaway, who plays Josephine Chesterfield, a high-class con artist who haunts the casino in Beaumont-sur-Mer, France, swindling impressionable older men by falling in love with them. Unfortunately, Anne does not Hathaway with accents. Her British brogue is absurd, and if she can’t fool us, how can she fool a spate of European millionaires?

Josephine meets her eventual rival, Penny Rust (Wilson), on a train as Penny is doing her signature move: tricking guys into giving her cash to save her hotter sister. After she succeeds, Wilson even cracks Martin’s joke in which the character orders a mountain of food on the mark’s dime.

DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, from left: Michael Caine, Steve Martin, 1988
The OG scoundrels, Michael Caine and Steve Martin©Orion Pictures Corp/Courtesy E

Indeed, unlike other men-banishing remakes such as “Ghostbusters” and “Ocean’s 8,” which deviate from their source material, “The Hustle” slavishly hews to the script of “Scoundrels,” sometimes even the way scenes are shot. It’s only adjusted for technology — mobile phones, computers, Venmo — and the actresses’ personalities, aka boring and klutzy.

Wilson does her usual schtick, filled with Aussie awkwardness, pratfalls and a total abandonment of shame. As always, she is very funny, especially as Hortense the Foul Princess, a character the pair invents to scare away rich dudes, who leave pricey engagement rings behind. She works overtime to make up for Hathaway’s distracted air of superiority.

The Glenne Headley role — the main rube — is a tech entrepreneur played by Alex Sharp. The British actor, who’s playing an American, is the only person not treating the movie like an overlong gag. He oozes sincerity as the women compete to rob him of $500K.

Without the perfect core duo, “The Hustle” misses the mark.


The new con-artist comedy “The Hustle,” starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson, is a remake of 1988’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” with Michael Caine and Steve Martin. The two follow mostly the same framework — with a few major changes.

The duos

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” — Michael Caine plays the mannered Brit, here Lawrence Jamieson, while Steve Martin is the kookly, lowly American Freddy Benson.

“The Hustle” — Josephine Chesterfield is now the elegant English con woman with martial-arts skills, and Rebel Wilson is the Aussie swindler Penny Rust, who has a nasty habit of running into walls and slipping on marble floors.

The marks

Rebel Wilson stars as Penny Rust and Anne Hathaway as Josephine Chesterfield
Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway in “The Hustle.”Christian Black

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” — Janet Colgate was a naive American soap heiress played by the late Glenne Headly.

“The Hustle” — Thomas is a hoodie-clad tech entrepreneur responsible for inventing a popular mobile app.

The challenge

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” — The first person to get $50,000 from Janet wins. (That’s about $122,000 when adjusted for inflation.)

“The Hustle” — The winner is the one who is handed $500,000 from Thomas.

The crazy royal sibling

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” — Lawrence, pretending to be a prince, has just convinced a wealthy heiress to marry him and take him home — but the catch is she’ll have to also bring his socially wild brother Ruprecht (Martin).

“The Hustle” — Trapped in a basement throne room is Josephine’s fake sister, Hortense the Foul Princess (Wilson), who speaks to mannequins and then kicks their ass.

The fake disability

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” — To win Janet’s heart — and cash — Freddy disguises himself as a psychosomatically wheelchair-bound Navy veteran. If only he had $50,000 for a cure!

“The Hustle” — A slightly more theatrical take, suited to Wilson’s physical comedy style, Penny tells Thomas she is psychosomatically blind.

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