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Film / Hustle (2022)

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Hustle is a 2022 sports movie starring Adam Sandler, Juancho Hernangomez, Anthony Edwardsnote , Queen Latifah, Robert Duvall, Ben Foster, and Kanny Smith, with cameos from several other famous basketball players aside from Hernangomez and Edwards.

Stanley Sugerman (Sandler), an NBA talent scout for the Philadelphia 76ers, is promoted to assistant coach by Rex Merrick (Duvall), owner of the 76ers, much to Stanley's delight. But when Rex suddenly passes away, his son Vince (Foster) takes over as the new owner. Vince demotes Stanley back to talent scout, forcing Stanley to find a future star in Europe.

After countless days of scouting, he eventually finds Bo Cruz (Hernangomez), a talented young player in Spain. Sugerman sees potential in Cruz and trains him in hopes of getting him into the NBA. But this will not be an easy task. Vince does not believe in Cruz's potential, instead preferring another young player named Kermit Wilts (Edwards).

Things get worse when Stanley quits his job after putting up with Vince's jerky behavior long enough. Without support from his former team, Stanley must rely on the help of his family and friends, along with the hard work of himself and Bo, to help him launch Bo's career.

Not to be confused with the 2004-2012 TV series.

This film contains examples of:

  • All for Nothing: Subverted. Stanley spends weeks training Bo physically and mentally to perform his best in front of NBA scouts and remain unaffected by Kermit's bullying. At Bo's next game, Bo is able to ignore Kermit at first. But then Kermit makes a comment about Bo's daughter, and Bo snaps and starts beating the crap out of him before being dragged off the court. It seems like Bo's career is over, but then, out of the blue, he gets invited to another audition.
  • Arch-Enemy: Kermit Wilts is Bo Cruz's biggest rival. Kermit repeatedly causes Bo to slip up and fail at his NBA auditions, and a big part of Bo's character development is learning to withstand Kermit's bullying.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Stanley finally gets his assistant coach job with the 76ers and Bo makes it to the NBA, but as a player for the Boston Celtics rather than the Sixers. While the two would obviously prefer it if they were still working together, they're still satisfied that all their hard work paid off and they're living their dreams.
  • Brains Evil, Brawn Good: Downplayed on the "evil" part. Kermit Wilts isn't quite evil, but he is a jerk and an antagonist to Bo. Bo is muscular and athletic, especially after his training with Stanley. Kermit Wilts, while still a talented player, is definitely skinnier, and he likes to use taunting words and insults to make his opponents lose their nerve.
  • Doing It for the Art: In-Universe. After Bo fails his first NBA audition, Stanley asks Bo if he really loves basketball. Stanley states that there's nothing he can do to train Bo if Bo doesn't love basketball enough. Bo says yes. With their shared love of the sport of basketball, Stanley and Bo get through many obstacles and succeed in their goals.
  • Happily Married: Stanley and his wife, Teresa. While she gets mad at Stanley for quitting the job Vince gave him (even though she told him to do it and he used her exact words), they clearly love each other and she's there to comfort him when he's going through hard times.
  • Heir Club for Men: Vince Merrick inherits the 76ers position of controlling owner after his father dies, even though his sister Kat is more suited for the position. After Vince causes a PR mess by leaking Bo's assault charge, Kat decides to step in and take over.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Kermit Wilts repeatedly taunts Bo to infuriate him and throw him off his game.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: Inverted, social media is portrayed in a positive light here. Stanley has his daughter record videos of Bo playing basketball and post them online. This helps Bo get noticed, which leads to him getting hundreds of compliments, and as a result, more NBA auditions.
  • Jerkass: Vince Merrick and Kermit Wilts both qualify, in different ways.
  • Mean Boss: Downplayed. Vince Merrick, who becomes manager of the 76ers and Stanley's new boss, may not be the kind of boss who is always shouting or threatening to fire people, but he is a smarmy, condescending prick who only cares about money and publicity.
  • My Greatest Failure: Stanley wears a hand splint. He reveals to Bo that he severely damaged his hand in a drunken car crash that he caused years ago. He has been suffering from the guilt of the situation ever since then.
  • New Media Are Evil: Zigzagged with smartphones and social media:
    • One scene shows Stanley in Vince's office, waiting for Vince to address him. Vince is typing on a smartphone, not even acknowledging Stanley for several seconds. This helps paint Vince as a Jerkass.
    • Inverted with Stanley's daughter, Alex, who wants to go to film school, a goal that Stanley is very supportive of. Stanley has Alex record videos of Bo playing basketball and post them online. This helps Bo get noticed and Alex get filming experience at the same time.
  • Only in It for the Money: Vince Merrick, who succeeds his father Rex as owner of the 76ers, only cares about the business side of basketball and how profitable his team is. This contrasts with Stanley and Bo, who are Doing It for the Art.
  • Parental Substitute: Stanley becomes a father figure for Bo as they work together. This is well ilustrated in the ending: Bo had told Stanley's daughter earlier that the tattoos on his right arm and torso were dedicated to his mother and daughter, while the (non-existent) ones on his left arm were for his father (which he didn't have); in Bo's big game, he has a tattoo with Stanley's motto of "Never Back Down", showing he's come to see his coach as a father.
  • Shout-Out: the extended training montage in the middle of the film, in which Bo runs around Philadelphia in the pre-dawn hours, serves as one to Rocky, which is Lampshaded by Stanley referring to Bo as "Rocky" at the end of it.
  • Take This Job and Shove It: When Vince tries to force Stanley to stop training Bo and get back to scouting for new players, Stanley calls him out for his smarmy, dickish behavior before announcing that he's quitting his job.
  • Training from Hell: Zigzagged. Not all of Stanley's training of Bo is that rough, but their morning routine is definitely the worst part. Stanley wakes Bo up early every morning and takes him to a large hill in Philadelphia, which is infamously difficult even for professional cyclists. Stanley has Bo run up the hill, while he follows behind in his car. Bo struggles mightily at first, but Stanley keeps goading him on, telling him not to slow down. They do this every day until Bo is able to run up the hill in less than a minute and 45 seconds. By the end of the training, he does it with a few seconds to spare, and then runs all the way up the staircase at the top of the hill, which he didn't have to do.
  • Trash Talk: A specialty of Wilts'.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: What Bo must learn to do to deal with Wilts' Trash Talk and remain composed on the court.
  • Unusual Pop Culture Name: Lampshaded. Stanley makes a joke about how Kermit shares his name with a frog.