When I heard Adam Sandler had released a new movie, I had to admit I was skeptical. I watched “Grown Ups” a few years ago, and was not all that impressed with his sense of humor. However, his new movie “Hustle” which released June 8, was the film that officially changed my perspective on the renowned comedian.
The movie follows the tale of basketball scout Stanley Sugerman (Adam Sandler) who discovers an extraordinary player named Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangómez) playing streetball overseas in Spain. With the support of his wife Teresa (Queen Latifah) and daughter Alex (Jordan Hull), Sugerman decides to recruit Cruz and train him to be the next great NBA player.
At its core, “Hustle” is a traditional underdog sports movie with an equally traditional happy ending. Sugerman’s rousing speeches and persistent attitude make it abundantly clear that the film will end on a positive note and while Cruz does face challenges, he predictably manages to defeat them all.
However, it is this same straightforward plot that makes the movie enjoyable. The easy, predictable storyline adds a certain layer of comfort and reassurance, making the movie more touching.
All in all, “Hustle” is a wholesome, yet hilarious movie that will have you simultaneously crying and laughing. Cruz’s endearingly awkward lack of knowledge about America mixed with Sandler’s constant exasperation at him make for a surprisingly heartwarming comedy.
In my opinion, though, the best part of the movie was that, when making the movie, Sandler reached out to actual basketball players for inspiration and even offered them roles in the movie. In fact, Juancho Hernangómez, the actor who plays Cruz, actually plays professionally for the Utah Jazz. Other important cameos from current players include Anthony Edwards from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boban Marjanović of the Dallas Mavericks and Trae Young from the Atlanta Hawks.
Sandler also made sure to include past NBA players like Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley who both now have active roles as sports commentators on TNT’s special, “Inside the NBA.” Even behind the scenes, this trend continued as one of the main producers of the show was Los Angeles Lakers player, Lebron James.
By offering real NBA players a chance to interact with the actors and even discuss or input their own ideas with writers, Sandler created a sense of authenticity. Every scene in the movie felt genuine, as if it could actually happen in real life.
If you are not an avid NBA fan, there is no need to worry. Although there may be a heavy roster of NBA players and idols, you do not need to know who they are to understand the plot.
If you are interested in watching “Hustle,” it is currently showing in most theaters and is also available to stream on Netflix.