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American Hustle/Rated R For Language, Sex, Nudity, Lies And Really Bad Wigs.

American Hustle is the highly touted to win lots of Oscar nominations film about conmen and conwomen. Not a “pro” among them. The cast and performances are good. Really good. The wigs they are forced to wear are bad. Really bad.

Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner sport rugs that make them look like Francis the Talking Mule prepping for the High School prom. This hair is so distracting that I confess to missing a lot of the show because I couldn’t take my eyes off the hair. How bad is the hair? It sticks out like the creature in Alien (1979), the moment it jumped out of its hapless victim’s mid-section. Not that the hair ruins the movie— it just fully commands your attention in any scene with CB or JR.

AH is an attempt to copy the 1973 Academy Award winner, The Sting, without the fun; substituting instead, grit, unlikable characters and the reality of the underbelly of American life. They did manage to skip the fun. The 138-minute film is not a joy to watch despite any comedic moments.

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It manages to slip past being uncomfortable by involving children in the mix. But beyond showing that all the thieving and lying is done by well-intentioned people trying to support their children, it falls flat. It appears most of the profits go to smoking, drinking, drugs and satisfying, shall we say, personal desires.

AH is well made, if way too long. The acting jobs by the stellar cast, which is what they promote the most, are worth seeing – if you don’t mind the depressing subject matter, and people you will come to believe would be best served by being flushed down a toilet.

The plot concerns how Bale and Amy Adams get together to make a living scamming and hustling. They seem to be doing a good job until they get mixed up in a deal that turns out to be more than they can handle.

The FBI gets involved, as do politicians with their hands out. Robert De Niro turns up as a mafia figure, and mostly scowls and looks scary. Nobody does this better than he does. Since the film takes place in the late 1970s, a lot of great songs from Duke Ellington, Count Basie and others are heard. Even veteran singer Jack Jones turns up in a small cameo as a singer. Even though the film characters are crooks, they at least demonstrate a taste for good music.

The Oscars may like this one a lot. You might not. I thought it was above average, but like this review, way too long and serious. The Golden Globes award nominations included this film it its comedy or musical category.

Rated 3.0 out of 4.0 reasons not to get taken. There is always The Sting on DVD and Blue-ray.

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