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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 23, 2022



‘HUSTLE’ is a basketball movie that NBA fans will surely enjoy as it features so many NBA cagers. 

But it’s not only for basketball diehards. The story itself and the way it’s developed is very engaging even for ordinary viewers. 

Adam Sandler plays Stanley Sugerman, a basketball scout for the Philadelphia 76ers team in NBA who is looking for future hardcourt stars all over the country, taking him away a lot of time from his wife Teresa (Queen Latifah) and their daughter.

The team’s owner, Rex Merrick (Richard Duvall, in a guest role), personally favors Stanley but Rex’ son, Vincent (Ben Foster) does not. 

Rex promotes Stanley as assistant coach so he can stay more with his family. But that same day, Rex suddenly dies and Vince takes away Stanley’s promotion and sends him abroad to look for a new basketball star. 

He flies to Spain to talk to a possible recruit but it didn’t go well. 

But while watching a neighborhood street ballgame, he is astonished when he sees a totally unknown player working magic on the hard court. 

This is Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangomez, a real life NBA player), who is initially resistant to him.  

He persists and gets to talk to Bo’s mother (Maria Botto.) 

He learns that Bo has been invited before to try out in the USA when he was only 15, but he got his girlfriend pregnant so he opted to stay in Spain. 

Now, his daughter Lucia is 8 years old and Bo works in a construction company with hustling in basketball as his sideline. 

Stanley is blown away by Bo’s raw talent he himself brings him to the USA to be signed up by the Philadelphia team. 

But as may be expected, it’s not that easy and things do not go quite as smoothly as they would have both hoped. Both Stanley and Bo may be considered as underdogs. 

Stanley has ambitions of being a coach but is not given the opportunity to do so. Bo is really a good player but he’s just wasting his life away in Spain. 

Both are very good, caring family men. So from the start, you get to like them both and really root for them as they struggle their way up into the uber-competitive NBA forefront. 

They will be facing a lot of obstacles along the way. Will these underdogs still come out on top of their game? 

You betcha, as this is a feel good movie where the good guys come out triumphant despite all the odds. 

More than anything else, “Hustle” proves that Adam Sandler, better known as a comedian since his “Saturday Night Live” days, is capable of being persuasive in a dramatic role. 

He shows a lot of emotional heft as Stanley, looking so tired and wornout at the start of the movie, with the appearance of a man who has seen better days and has now gone through many countries in the course of his job, looking like a man seriously doubting whether what he’s doing is really worth it. 

He was once a promising basketball player himself, but was sidelined by an injury and is now hustling as a basketball scout. 

The character is not really new as we’ve seen him before in other sports movies like “Hoosiers”, “Moneyball” etc.  

But Sandler manages to keep us invested in his interpretation of Stanley and his own hoop dreams. 

Bo Hernangomez (who plays for the Utah team in real life) also does well as Stanley’s unpolished gem and problematic protege. It helps, of course, that he is movie star handsome and has lots of charisma. 

His jogging along the Manayunk Hill will remind you of Sylvester Stallone’s trek up to the stone steps that lead to the Philadelphia Art Museum in “Rocky”. 

If you’re an NBA fan, you will enjoy the many cameo appearance of various NBA players and coaches all throughout the movie. 

Among those who appear are Julius Erving, Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, Doc Rivers, Tobias Harris, Trae Young, Jordan Clarkson and so many more.

But “Hustle” is worth seeing even if you are not a boxing or a football fan. 

Director Jeremiah Zagar manages to truly pep up the game sequences with his inventive camera angles and movements. 

The music alone with its contagious, percussive soundtrack is very uplifting. 

Ultimately, it’s a story of redemption, of not giving up on your aspirations and finding fulfillment in helping other people’ with talent to achieve their own potential.