Adam Sandlers new Netflix movie is getting surprisingly excellent reviews

Netflix has released a new Adam Sandler movie – and critics are full of praise for the film. Hustle stars Sandler as Stanley Sugerman, a scout for basketball team the Philadelphia 76ers who takes a talented unknown player (Bo Cruz) under his wing. 

This is far from the first Netflix movie to star Sandler – there’s Murder Mystery, The Ridiculous 6, The Do Over, Hubie Halloween, and more – but Hustle currently sits at a solid 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, in stark contrast to Hubie Halloween’s 52% or Murder Mystery’s 45%. 

“There’s pleasure and poignancy watching Sandler in Hustle as basketball scout Stanley Sugarman, a man whose infectious passion for the sport keeps hitting a wall of defeat,” says The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab)‘s David Rooney. “Adhering to the formulaic requirements of inspirational sports dramas while supplying plenty of individuality and characters worth rooting for, the Netflix feature scores.” 

“Hustle is fiction, but it often feels like a true-life drama (thanks, in part, to the extraordinary roster of NBA players and associates who appear as themselves), and that dovetails with the new authenticity of Adam Sandler, who has learned to pour every bit of himself into a role,” is the verdict of Variety (opens in new tab)‘s Owen Gleiberman. 

Polygon (opens in new tab)‘s Robert Daniels also has good words for the movie, despite finding it a little derivative: “It deploys an all-star ensemble, ingenious camerawork, and sharp editing to uplift a cliché story about earnest fatherhood and distant hoop dreams. But in the early going of Hustle, the bones of other, better movies are visible.” 

Similarly, (opens in new tab)‘s Glenn Kenny liked the film, but with some reservations: “If Hustle passes around a lot of sports movie cliches, it does so with a light touch. And its sense of atmosphere, and depiction of Stanley’s milieu, is sensitive and knowing. But be warned: this movie is VERY basketball-oriented. If you’re not a fan, you might feel a little lost.” 

More critics have good words for Sandler’s acting especially. “Sandler gives an open-hearted, humanistic performance as a down-on-his-luck, disheartened soul hungering for a challenge and change, staying within well-guided boundaries of likability. He’s an assured actor, as adept with levity as with the role’s more dramatic challenges,” says AV Club (opens in new tab)‘s Courtney Howard. “Newcomer Hernangómez makes a formidable screen partner for Sandler, delivering vulnerability and nuanced grace. Also noteworthy, the bevy of basketball-star cameos doesn’t bog down any momentum; their addition – which in any other feature would be seen as a cheap ploy – gives the picture an air of authenticity.” 

Stephanie Zacharek from Time (opens in new tab) says: “And while Sandler has given some fine dramatic, as opposed to comic, performances in recent years – most notably as an awkward son living in the shadow of his successful sculptor father in Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) – he seems to be getting even better as he ages. As Stanley, he coasts breezily on a neurotic, self-deprecating cloud – this is a guy who, as the movie opens, is almost too comfortable with his lack of his success. Watching him learn to fight for what he wants is one of the movie’s quiet pleasures.”

Hustle is streaming on Netflix now, and you can fill out your watchlist with our guide to the best Netflix movies

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