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HUSTLE Review: Kermit Wilts is a Star

A very serious, critical review of the newest Basketball movie, starring Anthony Edwards

Netflix World Premiere Of HUSTLE Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Netflix

I’ve been writing here at Canis for a long time now, long enough to go through the trials of Jimmy Butler forcing his way out, long enough to convince myself that trading the number one overall pick in the draft for Marcus Smart is a good idea, and long enough to witness the coolest athlete in the world reside in Minneapolis. We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well over the years here, but what you may not yet know is that I am a film fanatic, and a very serious movie critic.

Of course, I mean this very seriously, as my favorite and most-watched movies include very serious and critically-acclaimed films (this is what we call what the common folk refer to as a movie) such as Super Troopers, Blades of Glory, Happy Gilmore, and Anchorman 2. So when I give you my review here, you should know that I use a very strict and serious grading scale, that is basically 1) did this movie entertain me, 2) was my attention held well enough to keep me off of Twitter for a few hours, and 3) was the acting somewhat passable. High standards, I know.

Before I give my review here, I want to set the scene here. As I sat down with a $10 bottle of Pinot Grigio, my expectations were remarkably low for Adam Sandler & LeBron James’ movie, Hustle. In general, sports movies are hard to make, especially ones aimed at professional leagues. It turns out, actors are not as good at sports as pros are, and you can’t just teach average joes to mimic the movements of professional athletes, who knew! The game play isn’t always super important, but it does often take away from the overall movie when the “professional” basketball players are bad at basketball Needless to say, I was prepared to grade this on a curve.

In all sincerity, it was evident quickly that this was genuinely going to be a good, entertaining movie. It turns out, having a beloved comedian and the biggest NBA Star of the last two decades produce a movie together gives you the ability to do some things that are otherwise not possible. You know what’s a great way to work around the issue of actors being bad basketball players? Use real, professional basketball players and stars, and teach them to act in a limited enough fashion that the on-court product is still pretty cool, while the acting is good enough. How many other basketball movies have included legitimate side-step threes from pros?

The cameos from all of the NBA community (Dirk, Luka Doncic, Anthony Edwards, Trae Young, Boban, Kenny Smith, Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, Mattise Thybulle, Kyle Lowry, Marc Cuban, etc.) make the movie, with Dirk in particular being hilarious.

The star of the movie is former Timberwolf Juancho Hernangomez (Bo Cruz), who is matched up throughout the movie with our perfect son Anthony Edwards (Kermit Wilts). Through the first hour-and-a-half or so, I was remarkably impressed with the writing by Sandler the rest of the script writers, as Wilts (Ant) basically dominated Cruz (Juancho) throughout their first two match-ups. Can’t get more accurate than that, can you?

Where the film lost me a bit, was that in their third and final meeting, something absurd began to happen. Juancho’s character, Bo Cruz, began to dominate Kermit Wilts. I’ve seen those two actors play a lot of basketball, and I think anyone else who has would agree with me that that is about as realistic as the latest season of Stranger Things. Disgusting!

Okay, okay, jokes aside, Juancho was actually awesome in this movie. Whenever the professional basketball checks stop coming, he seems (to my very expert eye) to have a real gift as an actor. It was also a remarkable reminder of just how damn good NBA players are. Juancho is not really rotation-level player in the NBA, but he is still so skilled and so good at basketball that it was genuinely believable throughout the movie that he could be. A random observer who wasn’t familiar with Juancho would genuinely believe that he was an NBA Star.

Overall, I loved the movie. Ant was clearly a natural, and I would be absolutely shocked if this wasn’t just the beginning of his acting career. He was hilarious, and made a lot of the scenes he was in work.

Basketball movies are really difficult to make, but this one was a winner. This expert critic gives it a 8.5/10 on the entertainment/attention/passable acting scale, with the only thing holding it back is just not enough screen time for Kermit Wilts. How about a sequel centered around Edwards? Either way, this is a fun way to spend two hours, which is really all I ever ask for.