Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
Directed by Chris Addison
Written by Jac Schaeffer
Based upon the classic 1988 Comedy, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine this is the modern day female centered version which I am sad to say is a major flop and relies too heavily upon trying to fit a perfect mold cast by the film it is trying so hard to imitate. This should have easily been a film to allow twists and turns and more physical comedy from its stars, Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson. The writer completely missed any female empowerment theme that was setup early on in the film. Simply sad to see such a waste of film when a second writer could have been brought in to rewrite scenes and add in humor.
Here comes the spoilers.
The film starts off with introducing our two leads showcasing them as similar but operating at far different levels. Josephine (Anne Hathaway), is working her con games in the south of France and utilizes a small team to run her cons against wealthy men. She crosses path on a train ride with Penny (Rebel Wilson), and she quickly dispatches Penny in hopes to deter her from coming to her town and potentially ruining her cons. Penny eventually gets updated on who Josephine is and she comes to Josephine’s mansion by the sea to insert herself as Josephine’s apprentice to learn how to take down wealthy men. Penny assumes that Josephine is “Medusa”, a famous female con artist which she quickly denies. Josephine reluctantly agrees and we get hit with a training montage which very well may be the highlight of the film from a comedic perspective. Josephine explains to Penny that it is easy to con men because they would never believe a woman to be smarter than they are. The film at this moment would have done well with departing a bit from the original storyline a bit. After a string of successful cons which Penny poorly emulates Steve Martin’s con character of Ruprecht to scare away men, and leaving their expensive engagement rings with Josephine. Penny gets upset because she is not getting her cut of the cons. She and Josephine enter into a bet that whomever cons the next mark gets to stay in town and the other must leave to never return. They select a tech millionaire in town to meet investors for his latest application idea.
At this point if you know the original storyline, then you know every beat this film is going to take. Penny sets herself up as a blind woman as opposed to Martin’s original take as a paralyzed man. The issue here is simply that with Martin’s scene Caine gets to really cut loose with the running and swinging a stick to test Martin’s paralysis. Here there is hold back which I can only assume is to avoid having Josephine actually hit Penny in the face. That actually would have been funny and have Penny go the rest of the film with black eyes. This is the first change up I would have made to add in visual humor throughout the rest of the film. I would then utilize Josephine to setup obvious pitfalls for Penny to see how she could cleverly get out of falling, running into clear glass walls, etc. This would have greatly elevated this film for more laughs.
This films ends with both women being conned by their mark. True to beat with the original their mark returns with new victims in a real estate ploy and quickly induces the two ladies to join him. Another misstep here that could have setup a sequel which the first film never took on. Have one of the victims in the group wear a snake emblem signaling to the audience this may be Medusa, and that our three characters may be in for getting conned. Would have made for a solid setup for a potential sequel, but unfortunately with the film’s poor writing, poor use of actresses, and simply unimaginative storyline there will most definitely be no sequel for this.
Sadly watching this film itself was the biggest hustle of them all.
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