Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Cardi B, Keke Palmer, Julia Stiles, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, Madeline Brewer, Stormi Maya, Usher Raymond
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Comedy drama directed and written by Lorene Scafaria, based upon a New York magazine article by Jessica Pressler. Hustlers follows a crew of former strip club employees, led by Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.
Our Favorite Quotes:
Strip Club Owner: [counting her earnings] So, minus forty percent is two-eight-seven, minus one-sixty.
Destiny: You said it was one-thirty.
Strip Club Owner: Well, you got here after five, didn’t you?
Strip Club Owner: [Destiny reluctantly hands over the cash from her earnings] Bye, new girl.
Ramona: [to Destiny] Doesn’t money make you horny?
Destiny: [meets Ramona on the roof of the club] Hey, can I get a light?
Ramona: Where’s your coat?
Destiny: I left it inside.
Ramona: [opens her fur coat] Yeah? Climb in my fur. Come on.
Ramona: Freeze out here.
Destiny: I know.
Ramona: I was a centerfold once.
Destiny: No way.
Destiny: No f***ing way.
Destiny: Oh, my God.
Ramona: Back when Stevie Wonder came in.
Destiny: What the f*** did Stevie Wonder come to the club for?
Ramona: Casey had him in the Champagne Room. Swears to God he isn’t blind.
Destiny: How come you’re so good? I see you with every single kind of guy. And, I don’t know, it’s like you have them all figured out.
Ramona: I guess I’m just a people person. You know, it’s easier if you think of them as like your rich friends, you know. Some of them are not so bad.
Destiny: [referring to her work at the club] But I’m not that good. I mean, if I, maybe if you like, I don’t know, showed me moves.
Ramona: Maybe we could work together. You know? I could give you a crash course in this place. Introduce you to some of my regulars. It’s just mostly Wall Street guys looking to spend money on pretty girls. What do you think of that?
Destiny: Yeah, that would be cool.
Elizabeth: [in 2014 we see Destiny being interviewed by Elizabeth] So, it was Ramona’s idea that you two work together?
Destiny: Yes, that’s right. And at this point, everything was aboveboard. I mean, I thought she was nice.
Elizabeth: And when would you say that things got out of control?
Destiny: Ramona was always in control.
Ramona: [shows pole dancing moves to Destiny] Front hook. Ankle hook.
Ramona: Knee hook. Hold on with that knee.
Ramona: From here, you could do the carousel. Put your head back. Come down. You can do Peter Pan. Knee hook. Just spin.
Destiny: [laughs] Jesus Christ.
Ramona: Then you can go into a fairy sit. Stag.
Destiny: That’s pretty.
Ramona: Reverse stag.
Destiny: That’s pretty too.
Ramona: Scissor sit. Table top.
Destiny: I can’t do that.
Ramona: You can do that. You’re going to do that. A climb.
Destiny: What if you don’t have muscles to do that?
Ramona: You have muscles to do this.
Destiny: I don’t have any.
Ramona: Every girl has muscles to do this. You could do this one, this is a martini. Fireman down. Boom.
Ramona: Hey, you know Diamond from the Bronx, right?
Diamond: What’s up, baby-boogie-down- f***ing-Bronx-b**ch?
Ramona: Come on, she’s going to help you.
Destiny: You’re going to help me?
Ramona: You’re going to help us out right now. Get in the chair.
Ramona: [to Diamond] Get in the chair.
Ramona: [teaching Destiny how to dance] You don’t have to be the best dancer. You just have to make their eyes move just one inch.
Diamond: [teaching Destiny how to dance] You drain the clock and not the m**herf***ing c**k, you know what I’m saying? And you just go slow.
Diamond: [referring to their boyfriends] These m**herf***ers think that it’s so fun to date a stripper, because it’s like, “We move, and we f***. And we f*** the best. It’s the s**t.” And then, when they realize that we work six nights a week, last s**t we want to see is their damn d**ks!
Liz: I just want to chill on my couch, in some feetie pajamas with my ice cream, no makeup, and for damn sure not with these on.
Diamond: Well, I have a boyfriend.
Ramona: Since when?
Diamond: [holds up a d**do] Since now. He don’t bother me. He don’t get jealous. The only time he complain is when I don’t change the batteries, b**ch.
Ramona: Too bad he ain’t got no money.
Diamond: Well, b**ch, I can’t have everything, can I?
Ramona: [as Destiny goes to buy a drink at the club] Hey. You an investor in this place?
Ramona: Then quit putting money back into it. Let the guys get f***ed up. First get them a single, then a double, then a triple, then go back to a double, and then a single. You want them drunk enough to get their credit card, but sober enough to sign the check.
Destiny: According to Ramona, there were three tiers of Wall Street guys.
Ramona: The guys at the bottom, they don’t do anything dirty to make money. So, most of them don’t have any. But if they do, you can milk them for every penny.
Ramona: [referring to the top clients] CEOs, CFOs, investment bankers, corporate raiders, hedge funders, ax murderers. Coming straight from the crime scene into the club. But not through the front. Oh, no. These guys, they don’t want to be written about on page six. They come through the back. They take the private elevator to the one room without cameras. And they don’t leave till they spend ten thousand, fifteen thousand dollars in one night.
Ramona: [referring to the top clients] They can be degrading, possessive, aggressive, violent. And they never get in any trouble. Because everyone’s willing to cover their tracks. Because deep down they all want what they got. They all want to be on top, where there are no consequences. You’re just another deal to them. And that’s all they are to you. It’s business. And it’s a more honest transaction than anything else they did that day. All you have to do is figure out who you’re dealing with, and then play them at their level.
Ramona: I’m designing my own swim-line.
Destiny: You made these?
Ramona: Uh-huh. I like to use a lot of mixed media. So I like find leather pieces, and then I get little like chains and make belts out of them. And this right here, these are epaulets. That’s French for “little shoulders”. You know, a lot of people are afraid to wear denim in the ocean, but I swear that these get more comfortable when they’re wet. Specifically salt water.
Ramona: It’s going to take some time for me to save up the money for my label, but I do have a client who’s a graphic designer, and he mocked-up this logo for me. Swimona. It’s catchy, right?
Destiny: Did you go to school for this?
Ramona: Yep. Thirteen credits away from graduating.
Destiny: I don’t want to be dependent on anybody. Like ever. You know? I just want to be able to take care of my grandma for the rest of her life. Maybe go shopping every once in a while.
Ramona: [chuckles] Yeah. That’s how I feel. I just want my daughter to be able to do whatever she wants, you know? Go to whatever school she wants, or not. If that’s what she wants. I swear, I’d do anything for this kid. Motherhood is a mental illness.
Destiny: Well, that would explain my mother.
Destiny: [back to being interviewed by Elizabeth] I mean Ramona. How much of this is going into the article?
Destiny: It’s just, I really hope it’s not some story about all strippers being thieves or whatever.
Elizabeth: Not at all.
Destiny: Because they’re not. And it’s things like this that add to a stigma, and I don’t want to perpetuate anything.
Elizabeth: Of course.
Destiny: You got to understand. I was making an honest living then. Everything was good. Everybody was happy. Everybody was making money.
Destiny: I made more money that year than a goddamn brain surgeon. And, sure, some days sucked. Like any other job. But other days…
Ramona: [when Usher shoes up to their club] What’s your name?
Usher: Usher, baby.
Destiny: And for one last moment, everything was so glamorous and cool.
Destiny: The crash put everybody out of business. But I had other things on my mind.
Destiny: After I stopped working, I lost touch with Ramona. That’s just what happens when you have a kid.
Interviewer: [being interviewed for a retail job] So you really don’t have any retail experience.
Destiny: No, not yet. But that’s why I’d really like to get retail experience, because then I would have it.
Interviewer: We’re really looking for someone with retail experience.
Destiny: Well, how am I supposed to get retail experience without retail experience? I mean, I sold beer. What’s the difference?
Ramona: You remember what we were like back then? Remember? We were like f***ing hurricanes. Weren’t we?
Destiny: I just need to make money right now, though, you know? I just want to like be independent. Not need anybody. Just me and Lily. That’s it.
Destiny: She told me what happened after the crash. With half of Wall Street unemployed, the club wasn’t far behind. Mercedes got Ramona a job in fashion.
Ramona: Look, anyone can own one nice suit. You want to look at their shoes, their watches, briefcases, their wedding rings. Always look for a wedding ring. Once you got them on the hook, that’s when we get the net.
Destiny: But like Ramona said, “Going fishing doesn’t mean you catch a marlin.” And some of the guys didn’t want to party. And some of them caught on.
Destiny: That’s when Ramona came up with her special recipe.
Annabelle: Are you serious?
Ramona: Well, it’s barely any different than what we’re doing now. It’s just a shortcut. A sure thing.
Annabelle: What if someone gets hurt?
Ramona: Nobody’s going to get hurt. The worst is they’ll have a bad hangover.
Mercedes: What if somebody calls the cops?
Ramona: And says what? “I spent five thousand dollars at a strip club. Send help”? No. They won’t even know what happened until they check their bank account.
Annabelle: I think I’m going to throw up.
Ramona: Look, we’re not the only ones doing this. How do you think the club stayed in business post 2008? It’s a side hustle. Everybody’s had to get creative, baby.
Mercedes: I know a girl in Queens who did it.
Annabelle: Did she get caught?
Mercedes: No. She sent her two kids to college, and now she lives in Miami. Opened up a nail salon.
Ramona: [to Destiny] Look, baby, we got to start thinking like these Wall Street guys. You see what they did to this country? They stole from everybody. Hardworking people lost everything. And not one of these douchebags went to jail. Not one. Is that fair? You ever think about when they come into the club? That’s stolen money. That’s what’s paying for their blow jobs. The f***ing firefighters retirement fund. F*** these guys!
Ramona: Look, we can’t dance forever. What are you going to do? Go back to minimum wage? No, baby, this game is rigged. And it does not reward people who play by the rules. You either got to stand in the corner or get in the ring.
Destiny: I don’t want to hurt anybody.
Ramona: Me either. Alright? They would do this anyway. We’re just helping them do it. Nobody gets hurt. Nobody gets hurt. So, are you in?
[Destiny smiles and nods]
Gary: You guys are sisters?
Mercedes: Yeah. Same dad, different moms.
Ramona: [toasting] To sisters!
Annabelle: [celebrating after their scheme works on Gary] We don’t have to go back. Do we? Do we have to go back?
Ramona: No, baby. Your dancing days are over.
Destiny: You guys, I can pay off my grandma’s house.
Mercedes: I’m getting myself a new engagement ring.
Annabelle: That’s so sweet.
Mercedes: And Dragon’s a** can stay in jail for a few more weeks. Or a month. Or a year.
Ramona: To Gary!
Ramona: We’re a family now. A family with money!
Destiny: [in her interview with Elizabeth] Okay. I know it sounds bad to say that we were like drugging people. But you got to understand, in our world, this was normal. I mean, half these guys are mainlining coke on their way to work. But we still wanted to make it as safe as possible. So, I suggested that we tweak the recipe.
Destiny: You know, I’m still not sure about strangers.
Ramona: Well, that’s the beauty of it, baby, they’re strangers.
Destiny: Yeah, but I don’t want to slip it to anybody who’s not already on something. We got to know that these guys like to party. And that they’ve got money. Enough not to care if some of it’s missing. With strangers, it’s unpredictable. No guarantees.
Destiny: So, we called up some old friends.
Destiny: [referring to the men they targeted] Maybe one of them would call and complain, but we could handle it.
Ramona: [flashback to Ramona being on the phone to one of their complaining clients] What are you talking about? You had an amazing time. You were so happy. You kept tipping everybody, remember?
Destiny: Ramona could always handle it.
Ramona: What are you going to do? Call the police? You really going to tell your wife and the police what you did? You think that’s worth whatever amount you’re missing? No, you went out. You had an epic night. It costs money. Why should it cost you any more than that?
Destiny: We treated it like a business.
Destiny: We invested in ourselves. We expanded our clientele. But the bigger the bank account, the greater the expectations.
Destiny: The guys were getting more and more aggressive, and the four of us could only take on so much. So, that’s when I said…
Destiny: We need to be outsourcing.
Ramona: Let’s put an ad in Craigslist.
Destiny: What’s Coco doing here? We said no junkies and no criminals.
Destiny: So, she’s a junkie and a criminal.
Ramona: People change.
Destiny: I could’ve worked on Wall Street. There were nights and weekends when we brought a hundred grand into the club, and everybody got in on the action. The hosts, the managers, the DJ. They all got their cut. Without us making the effort to go out and promote, the club wouldn’t have had a business.
Destiny: We weren’t just some disposable dancers anymore. I was CFO of my own f***ing corporation.
Ramona: [celebrating at their Christmas party] I’m so proud of you. We don’t need anybody else, do we?
Destiny: Mm-mm. Nobody.
Ramona: No. We’re the untouchables. Like Kobe and Shaq.
Destiny: Who gets to be Kobe?
Ramona: I’m Kobe. You’re Shaq. I’m the Kobe.
Destiny: No. I don’t want to be Shaq.
Ramona: [playfully] No. How are you Kobe when there can only be one Kobe? And I’m the Kobe!
Destiny: Double Kobe!
Ramona: I’m the Kobe!
Destiny’s Grandmother: I once danced with Frankie Valli.
Ramona: What? Nana!
Ramona: Did you know this?
Destiny’s Grandmother: It was before he got married, the second time.
Ramona: I don’t know, Nan. I don’t know about that. Are you sure?
Destiny’s Grandmother: Pretty sure.
Ramona: You’re not really sure. My God, this woman is my spirit animal!
Ramona: Okay, Nan. Alright, tell the truth. Frankie Valli shows up on your doorstep on your wedding day. And he says, “Me or your husband.” What do you say?
Destiny’s Grandmother: “Which car do you drive?”
Ramona: How have we not met sooner? How have we not met sooner? How have we not met sooner? Oh, my God.
Elizabeth: [back to the interview with Elizabeth] So, getting back to the drugging.
Destiny: Is that what you’re hung up on?
Elizabeth: It’s hard not to be.
Destiny: Yeah, I’m sorry. I don’t think I should even talk to you anymore. It’s just, I don’t know you. And I’m sorry, these girls are just like my sisters, so.
Elizabeth: That’s okay. I understand. Ramona said the same thing.
Destiny: You talked to Ramona?
Elizabeth: I went to her work. What?
Destiny: Oh, nothing. It’s just, the idea of Ramona Vega trying to go straight. That’s like, well, I mean, if you talked to her, what do you need to talk to me for?
Elizabeth: I was just hoping that you could fill in some of the blanks.
Destiny: Blanks? Okay. Where was I?
Ramona: Look, I don’t think we need them anymore.
Destiny: Need who?
Ramona: The club. Why should we split anything when we can have it all?
Destiny: After she cut out the club, we had to meet our clients in hotel rooms, or in their homes upstate.
Destiny: A lot of the girls stopped showing up.
Ramona: And what about Mercedes? Is she feeling “grossed-out”? You know, we can’t keep giving them their cut if they’re not showing up for weeks on end.
Ramona: We need a bigger crew. I’m going to call Coco.
Destiny: No! She’s a junkie.
Ramona: Fine. What about Georgia?
Destiny: She just got out of jail.
Destiny: She’s still in jail. Ramona, quit bringing home strays. We’re breaking the law here. We don’t want to work with criminals.
Destiny: [referring to the new women Ramona hired] It’s like, if we’re a team, and we’re making money, and we’re winning games, do you suddenly start trading players and bringing in new people? No, right?
Destiny: [referring to Ramona and their regular clients] It wasn’t long before she burned through our regulars, which left us with unpredictable strangers.
Destiny: [referring to a client] What the f*** happened?
Mercedes: He said he could dive off the roof. And I said he couldn’t.
Destiny: Well, you were right.
Destiny: [after dealing with the client who had a near-fatal accident diving off a roof] So where was Ramona when I needed her? Bailing out Dawn again.
Destiny: [continuing her interview with Elizabeth] I knew it had to stop. I kept thinking that there was like this magic number. You know, if I could save enough money, I could start clean. Just me and Lily. Maybe a score so big that we would never need anybody.
Destiny: Well, Ramona’s a liar. She’ll say anything to make herself look better. I mean, what did she say about me? I’m sure she had a lot to say. What did she say?
Elizabeth: She said you had a tough time growing up, and that you spent a lot of time alone. You got into fights, and had some bad boyfriends.
Destiny: Okay. What else?
Elizabeth: That your parents were immigrants, and that when your father left, your mother dropped you off at your grandparents house, and never came back. Is that true?
Destiny: I mean, I thought that she was just taking a break, you know? I thought that, you know, sometimes moms need a break. Why would she tell you all that?
Elizabeth: I think she just wanted me to understand that, for you, this wasn’t about revenge. You were just trying to make friends.
Elizabeth: Destiny, I know I’m supposed to think that what you did was terrible, and that these guys didn’t deserve it. But to tell you the truth, I don’t feel sorry for them.
Destiny: Well, I feel sorry for them. You know, I keep having this nightmare. Right, where like I’m in the back seat of this car. This moving car. And I realize that nobody is driving the car. And like I have to get to the front seat to like try to stop it, and I go there, and no matter what I do, I can’t get a grip on it and I can’t like stop it. And then I wake up.
Elizabeth: What happened between you and Ramona? Why aren’t you talking anymore?
Doug: [we see Elizabeth interviewing one of the male clients] The room was round. There was a table. They maxed out my corporate card, so my company launched an internal investigation, and I was fired.
Doug: [flashback to Doug talking on the phone to Destiny] Can you please just credit back my debit card? My mortgage payment’s on there.
Destiny: What are you talking about? You were having a great time.
Doug: Why are you doing this to me? Please, I have nothing. I can’t afford to not pay my mortgage. My son…
Destiny: I’m really sorry.
Ramona: Put the phone down, Destiny. Put it away.
Destiny: [Ramona goes to grab the phone from her] Just give me a second. Don’t. What the…
Ramona: Give m the phone.
Destiny: [they start to struggle as Ramona tries to grab the phone] Get off of me!
Ramona: If we don’t do it, someone else will!
Destiny: Get off of me.
Ramona: [finally grabs the phone off Destiny] Give me that f***ing phone. Ungrateful little b**ch.
Elizabeth: [interviews two detectives] So, there was a sting?
Detective Hunter: We cannot comment on that at this time. But what we can tell you is the amount of people that were willing to talk to us was so small it was absurd.
Detective Hunter: I guess men don’t want to admit what happened to them, you know? Being victimized by a woman.
Detective Hernandez: So, we did some investigating, and we found the Connecticut architect who Moves said failed to pay a hundred and thirty-five thousand dollar bill he racked up during four visits to the club.
Detective Hunter: [flashback, reading the newspaper article] “For a night of pleasure he can’t even remember.” What a boob.
Sergeant: “And went back three more times”? I guess he must’ve liked it.
Detective Hernandez: You know, when you look at it out of context, it seems like he’s making it up.
Ramona: [after she, Destiny, Annabelle, and Mercedes are arrested] This is unbelievable. You guys are really something, you know that? Does Tony know about this?
Detective Hunter: Take a seat, Miss Vega.
Ramona: This is crazy. We didn’t do anything wrong. You know, Tony wouldn’t let this happen. I’m going to text him.
Detective Hunter: [as Roma gets her phone and starts texting] Who gave her her phone back?
Detective Hunter: [Destiny is being interrogated] Think about your daughter.
Detective Hernandez: You’re facing felony charges here. You really want to go down for someone else?
Detective Hunter: Come on. You want Lily to grow up without her mother?
Detective Hernandez: You think these girls are your friends? You don’t think they’re going to rat you out?
Detective Hunter: Think about your daughter.
Ramona: [after the cops let them out on bail] Mercedes is probably going to use Dragon’s lawyer. So, you, me and Annabelle should probably lawyer up. Do we know any lawyers from the club? That guy, Jeremy? Or maybe Anton?
Destiny: I took the deal.
Ramona: You did? Have I taught you f***ing nothing? You f***ing idiot!
Ramona: [slaps Destiny in the face] What the f*** is wrong with you? Why would you do that?
Destiny: [crying] For Lily.
Ramona: [after Destiny reveals that she’s taken the detectives deal] Motherhood is a mental illness.
Destiny: [Ramona embraces her] I’m sorry.
Ramona: We were f***ing hurricanes, weren’t we?
[crying, Ramona turns and walks off]
Destiny: [2015 – Destiny calls Elizabeth] So, I was just reading the article again, and maybe the reason why we did what we did is because hurt people hurt people, you know?
Elizabeth: Yeah. No, I understand.
Destiny: So, have you talked to Ramona lately?
Elizabeth: No, just that one time. Have you?
Destiny: No. Can I just ask you, like what else did she say about me?
Ramona: [flashback to when Elizabeth interviewed Ramona, referring to the photo] And this here, this is Dorothy. Wasn’t she the cutest? Who could leave that baby? You know, we used to say, “If only we had known each other back then.” You know? Maybe we could’ve looked out for one another. Maybe our lives would’ve been different. You know? Or maybe it would’ve just been the same. Who knows? But I like to keep her with me. What else you want to know?
Elizabeth: [referring to Ramona] You should give her a call, Destiny.
Destiny: [crying] Yeah.
Ramona: [to Elizabeth] Look, there’s nothing I can really say to make sense of what went down. But everybody’s hustling. This city, this whole country, is a strip club. You got people tossing the money, and people doing the dance.