I spent my New Year's Eve with my daughters and good friends who really wanted to go to the movies. We chose American Hustle over Wolf of Wall Street. My husband unfortunately had to work and he thought this movie looked boring anyway. I, on the otherhand, was especially excited because of all the positive movie reviews, some going as far as Oscar nods. I loved Christian Bale since Batman Begins and also love Jennifer Lawrence.
The story is an odd combination of simple and complicated. A married conman, Irving,(Christian Bale) strikes up an affair and a shady business arrangement with Edith (Amy Adams). Jennifer Lawrence is Irving's controlling wife who doesn't care if he cheats just as long as he doesn't leave. Irving and Edith are conning away on this scheme that promises a huge line of credit in return for $5,000 fee. Of course there is no line of credit. Irving and Edith just pocket the fee.
The con made little sense to me as to why someone would actually trust a stranger to give them 50,000 in exchange for paying the stranger 5,000, but I'm there to be entertained and supposedly parts of this movie are true. I'd also like to throw in how their office was complete dump. My laundry room is a more conducive place of business.
Eventually the two main characters get busted by Bradly Cooper, the FBI agent. He "turns" them to get bigger fish and learn the game. Their prime mark is the mayor of some city in New Jersey (Jeremy Renner). They use an Arabic-looking Mexican to act as the billionaire who is interested in revamping the boardwalk. Irving develops a friendship and goes "soft" in the end when the poor mayor schmuck finds out he's being used. The plot gets more whacked out when the mob (Robert DeNiro) is brought into the mix. Spoiler Alert: The conman and his lady outsmart the FBI and live happily ever after.
My Opinion: The plot had many holes. The scams were either inadequately explained or just poorly written. As an avid watcher of American Greed I hoped for more details and credibility. The ending was ridiculous-the conman felt "bad" after getting his mayor friend in trouble and returned 2,000,000 that he scammed from the FBI to help out his "friend". If Bernie Madoff gets to see this flick, he'll be rolling on the floor of his jail cell.
The things that I liked were the dialogue and '70s clothes. Amy Adams looked smoking hot throughout the whole movie, wearing low-cut shirts that showed off her boobs. Jennifer Lawrence also looked great and had many funny lines. Christian Bale was transformed from the best looking guy in Hollywood to a middle-aged, balding man with a paunch. Bradly Cooper looked hysterical with a perm. Once you get passed the flashy setting and costumes there wasn't too much substance. The movie reminded me of Ocean's 11 and 12-you want so desperately to like the movie, but in the end the dots just don't connect and you are left with a picture doesn't make any sense. I give it 3/5 stars and I am being generous. Happy New Year!