The Netflix movie “Hustle” combines comedy, sports, and 50 basketball stars. But Adam Sandler leads it as a talent scout.
Stanley Sugarman has a nose for talent. He travels the world on behalf of the Philadelphia 76ers, always looking for undiscovered young basketball players for the NBA team. This job is called Scouting and it’s not easy with anything. But Stanley (Adam Sandler) also has the ability to spot the flaws of even the most promising youngsters.
Sometimes players are out of control, vulnerable to injury, elderly in secret, or simply too stoned. This Netflix “Hustle” is featured in the opening montage, where director Jeremiah Zagar sets the tone to please audiences: with quick cuts, pointed dialogue, and plenty of music. One immediately senses that the feel-good formula can work this time around.
Nobody amazes Stanley
Only one surprises Stanley: On a soccer field in Spain, he sees Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangomes) for the first time. Loafer, body tattooed and curvy, hair cut short. Without a fuss – and with work boots on his feet – he steals the show from the swans on the field. He hits from all positions, blocks and sometimes finds free teammates with a good pass. Stanley was instantly blown up.
Sandler himself is a big fan of the New York Knicks, playing it beautifully. His facial features barely moved, his mouth slightly open, but his eyes glowed with enthusiasm.
Here’s how the former Saturday Night Live comedian brings a nuance to his game: by looks. Who would have thought that the guarantor of humorous comedies like “Waterboy” and “Big Daddy” would one day mature into a compelling actor?
Although: Sandler has managed to show off what he’s made of over the course of his 30-year career.
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For example in Paul Thomas Anderson’s romance Punch-Drunk Love (2002), later in Noah Baumbach’s tragic comedy The Meyerowitz Stories (2017) and in The Black Diamond (2019), the cinematic tour of the Safdie- Brothers powerhouse. And his Stanley Sugarman in “Hustle” is instantly dear to your heart. Even if he is on the road most of the year and only communicates with his wife (Queen Latifah) via video call.
Stanley takes the Spanish Diamond to America, even though the new team boss (cute cunning: Ben Foster) doesn’t want it at all. On his own account, Bo Cruz makes a fit for selection camp, where youngsters present themselves to the NBA teams each year. A chance for the movie to unleash a slew of basketball greats. There are about 50 people in all: from Anthony Edwards, who plays a crucial role as Cruz’s antagonist, to Dirk Nowitzki and Julius “D. J” Irving.
Cruz himself also plays NBA star, Juancho Hernangomez (Utah Jazz). He’s trying acting for the first time and is doing well. It suits him that authors Taylor Materne and Will Fetters portray the character as a reticent family man who misses his daughter (Ainhoa Pillet) who remains in Spain. The text requires Hernangomes as much as he can show.
Two hours fly by
However, the text does not hold any surprises. In any case, everything is going as expected from a car with a sports background. There are complications, the seemingly final defeat and then – well, you guessed it. But director Jeremiah Zagar, who has mainly appeared with documentaries so far, gives spirit to the proven story.
At the same time, the actors, who also include Robert Duvall and comedian Heidi Gardner, are so passionate about the game that you stay on the ball even without prior knowledge of basketball. The two hours passed as Hernangomez flew towards the basket before grabbing the ball into the net.