American Hustle: Quirky and Uninspired?


The words “Some of this actually happened” are the very first thing you will see upon watching “American Hustle”. If you think about it, it’s a brilliant way to open a fictional biopic: it’s quirky, it’s dry and it’s very upfront. In many ways, “Some of this actually happened”, sums up the entire movie.

Hailed as one of, if not the, best movie of the holiday season “American Hustle” is sweeping critic’s lists across the country. I’ll admit that it’s a nice film and is perfectly okay in most aspects, but does it really deserve all this praise? I seem to be in the minority when I say it does not.

To start off, the cast of this movie has been a huge deal. Think about it, Batman and Katniss in the same movie? That’s big any day. Throw in Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner? Heck yeah, they’re huge stars! And Bradley Cooper? Why not? He’s a huge star too, plus his boyish charm and awkward smiling will probably come in handy at some point, right? (spoiler alert, they do). That sounds like an ensemble cast assembled in heaven!

Maybe it is too, but you have to admit, that group is, if nothing else, uninspired. Director David O. Russell also directed both “Silver Linings Playbook,” which Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence starred in, and “The Fighter,” which Christian Bale and Amy Adams starred in. Normally I’d say I get it, why mess with a good thing? Come on, you can’t just keep making movies with the same people in it over and over again without it getting a little stale.

Speaking of stale, the story which is very loosely based on the real life Abscam scandal finishes at just a little over two hours. Two very long hours. The story is incredibly heavy and, as the elderly gentleman who sat next to me in the theatre put it best, “It doesn’t make any damn sense!” It’s definitely confusing at times and there are more than a few moments which will have you exclaiming, “What?” By the end most (or at least some) of it should make sense to you, but it seemed to me that the same ending could have been reached without all the plot twists. Overall the script feels frazzled at times, but that’s not even my main gripe with “American Hustle.”

My biggest problem with this movie is the plethora of character quirks. Christian Bale is fat and has a comb over, which is so funny and out of character for the Dark Knight! Bradley Cooper’s character gets perms, so make sure you show him in curlers, and make fun of that every chance you get! Amy Adams loves everyone, and yet no one at the same time. So let’s create a love triangle because no good movie is complete without a love triangle!

The character designs are forced and uninspired, and I found myself questioning the realism of their choices more than a few times throughout. I know it’s a movie so real life has to be glamorized a bit, but come on. How boring were the real life inspirations for this film that they needed to be dolled up this much?

I know I’m being a bit harsh (especially for me), but I feel I need to be critical. Is this movie bad? No, especially when compared to a lot of other movies that came out in 2013. Is this movie as incredible as everyone has been saying it is? No. In the end, I think everyone is getting caught up in the cultural swirl that makes us incapable of disliking anything involving Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, or Amy Adams.

If you’re a hardcore movie viewer, it’s worth a watch for the simple fact that it will probably be a big Oscar contender (personally the only award I would give it would be “Best Supporting Actress” for Amy Adams’ dresses). For those of you who aren’t, I’d say at the most rent it when it comes out on DVD. Either way, prepare yourself for heavy and emotionally draining experience.

Have you seen “American Hustle” and care to agree/disagree with me? Leave your opinion in the comment section below!