Composed of 450 players, the NBA is one of the hardest leagues to get into. The process is a hard and detailed one. Lebron James and his partner Maverick Carter produced a very detailed film about the process for Netflix titled Hustle. We all know James’ path to the NBA, and we know many other stars born in the state’s path as well. Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, and Kobe Bryant are all players that went to the NBA straight out of high school. But what is it like for a foreign player? One that isn’t televised constantly in the states?
Hustle follows NBA scout Stanley Sugerman (Adam Sandler) as he finds the perfect basketball player for the 76ers. He goes from city to city, state to state, and country to country looking for the next best thing. He’s scouting a player named Hass (Moe Wagner) at first, and he doesn’t like him. After a testy conversation with 76ers owner Rex Merrick’s (Robert Duvall) son Vince (Ben Foster), he’s offered a position as an assistant coach. Rex passes away that same night and he’s sent right back out on the trail by Vince who doesn’t like him because he thinks knows more than Stanley. He then finds Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangomez), an all-around basketball player that any team could use. He has everything you want in a player, but he also has baggage.
The two men go on a journey after Vince quits his job as an NBA scout and takes on the job of trying to make sure Bo gets to live his dream. The only thing that stands in his way? A terrible media, a dark past, and one evil Kermit Wilts (Anthony Edwards). Stanley must find a way to balance his family and help Cruz, who’s away from his daughter for the first time. The journey is long and exhausting, but they create the father-son bond neither one of them have yet to experience.
The way everything blends together so well, it’s like a very crucial painting, a work of art. Will Fetters and Taylor Materne give us a very well-written film. Director Jeremiah Zagar and cinematographer Zak Mulligan capture angles of handles, shots, trash-talking, passing, and it’s all great. Between Hustle and Winning Time, basketball fans are living a dream. The script has some small faults, as the film gets kind of predictable towards the end. Overall though, it’s very heartfelt and full of emotion.
The acting in this film is great. Sandler taps back into his Uncut Gems ways a little bit, and Queen Latifah is brilliant like always. Hernangomez plays his character very well. A Spain-born single father trying to provide for his daughter. He shows every emotion of a basketball player doing what he can to provide for his family. This film encapsulates what it takes to become an NBA player. Edwards also plays a wonderful villain, as well as Foster.
The film features all of the ways basketball and the NBA have evolved. We have social media challenges, NBA on TNT, and just how it’s a worldwide sport. Philadelphia where most of the film takes place is home to some of the greatest sports fans on Earth. They love their 76ers and have a rich basketball history. Players like Dr. J and Allen Iverson who created a great culture when they played there. There are many things about this film that scream basketball. Even the open gym sessions that NBA players have during the summer were highlighted in a way. It’s just an all-around basketball film that engulfs itself in the culture.
I loved this movie. This is the best basketball movie I’ve seen since Coach Carter. Was it a tad corny at certain moments? Sure. The film overall is a great story that is well told though. I enjoyed watching Sandler in another serious film. The film also showcases just how great basketball athletes are. Edwards and Hernangomez are two young NBA stars on the rise. Hernangomez has an amazing story of how he became an NBA player, and this isn’t exactly that but it’s very close. I truly enjoyed Hustle as a fan of film and a fan of basketball. I hope you all have or will as well. – Rascal F. Kennedy
Hustle is now streaming on Netflix.