Hustle (2022) – Review

A highly respected basketball scout, Stanley Sugerman (Adam Sandler) discovers an unknown street player while scouting in Spain, beginning a long, difficult, yet personal journey to groom the prospect for the dizzy heights of the NBA, as he believes he has the talent required to succeed. A well-written and well-acted drama that isn’t just a movie for basketball or sport fans in general. It’s worth noting that Hustle is currently streaming on Netflix.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Director: Jeremiah Zagar
Writers:  Taylor Materne, Will Fetters
Starring: Adam Sandler, Juancho Hernangomez

After catching the recently released Air (2023), a flick devoted to the sport of basketball, Hustle (based around the same sport) was next on the list of films to give a shot. Released in the summer of 2022, this Netflix based production features not only a thrilling underdog story, but a story with emotion, unpredictability and sheer grit, something that most viewers can get behind and relate to. With that being said, you certainly don’t have to like the game to resonate with the flick from start to finish.

Hustle not only instils a classic underdog story, but it also involves important life lessons, with a thoroughly fitting soundtrack and some nicely crafted cinematography throughout. There were one or two minor issues, such as the casting of one or two characters and the pacing seemed to stagnate on occasion, but those were dwarfed, in my opinion, by the positives brought to the screen.

Along with the more serious drama characteristics of the film, there were also the traditional touches of humour you’d come to expect in any Adam Sandler feature, with him pulling off the role perfectly and carrying enough chemistry in the near two-hour runtime to comprehend that he really appreciates the sport that this was based around. A review I read shortly after watching the flick stated that this was Adam Sandler’s “love letter to basketball” and that’s a notion I’d struggle to argue against.

In terms of the cast, Adam Sandler starred as the lead man, Stanley Sugerman and demonstrated why his move into the drama genre is paying off, after the success of Uncut Gems (2019). Juancho Hernangomez adopted the role of Bo Cruz, the unknown basketballer, while there were also prominent roles for Queen Latifah and Vince Merrick, with the latter pulling off yet another fine performance as the man you love to hate. Aside from the main cast, a wealth of basketball stars, both new and old, were given screentime, including Trae Young, Boban Marjanovic, Anthony Edwards, Dirk Nowitzki, Luka Doncic and many more.

All in all, Hustle showcases not only the love of basketball, but determination, drama and emotion all rolled into one. It’s also one of the rare new releases in recent times that as a viewer, you don’t want the flick to conclude. Hustle comes highly recommended, even for those that don’t follow the sport, and as previously mentioned, the picture is currently streaming on Netflix.

“I’ll say one last inspirational thing to you: they can’t kill you if you’re already dead.”

Stanley Sugerman – Hustle


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