Bottom Line: AMERICAN HUSTLE is the pot-clanging, trident-yielding, Ruprecht the Monkey Boy, wannabe, comedic distant cousin to director Martin Scorsese’s similarly-vibed 1990 American crime masterpiece – let’s call this one, though, GOOFY-FELLAS. That’s not all together low praise, because when it works (which is most of the time) it’s a confidently engaging flick about bad people screwing over other bad people over. When it doesn’t work, it’s a muddled, meandering, surface-level, double-cross, crime comedy caper with gaudy seventies threads, embarrassingly sweet hairdos and not quite enough soul. Bale, Adams, Cooper, Lawrence and Renner, however, all give terrific, nomination-worthy performances and make it worth the price of admission alone… They’re all working double time to keep this ship afloat and on course – plus, it’s just fun to see these big stars riff. It’s garnering a lot of end-of-year attention from critics groups and nomination hander-outers so I’m hoping a second viewing will make things a little clearer for me. Might happen, might not. A busily solid movie with a touch too much critical praise, I wish this expertly acted flick played it a bit cooler and wasn’t so obnoxiously eager to please.
Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence
Directed by: David O. Russell (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, THE FIGHTER and THREE KINGS)
Running time: 129 minutes
Story: A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock our nation, American Hustle tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that's as dangerous as it is enchanting. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving's unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. Like David O. Russell's previous films, American Hustle defies genre, hinging on raw emotion, and life and death stakes. (c) Sony