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Published:December 27th, 2013 08:23 EST
David O. Russell`s 'American Hustle' Is A Frolicking `70s Romp; Forget About the Real ABSCAM Scandal!

David O. Russell`s 'American Hustle' Is A Frolicking `70s Romp; Forget About the Real ABSCAM Scandal!

By John G. Kays


American Hustle was just what I needed, catching a matinee on Christmas Eve, when afflicted with a minor case of the Holiday Blues; I like to see films at the Galleria Cinemark in Bee Caves, Texas, and while my expectations were low-balled, to my amazement, I got to take a riveting ride in a time machine, back to the late 1970s, my favorite period! Putting aside concerns about accuracy with the ABSCAM Scandal (that`s just a loose template), American Hustle entertained me from the opening credits, frame for frame, to the closing credits (my problems were superseded by miraculous time travel - those bummers take place in the 21st Century, but I was living in the late 1970s now)!


This transcendental experience was probably due to the marvel of Jeremy Renner`s pompadour, when playing a fictitious replica of Angelo Errichetti, the real mayor of Camden, New Jersey, who got popped in the Real ABSCAM Sting. The art of losing my body was further enhanced by the tremendous `70s soundtrack, including Electric Light Orchestra`s 10538 Overture, Sir Paul`s Live and Let Die, Elton John`s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Donna Summer`s I Feel Love (used in the fantastic Studio 54 scene), and finally, my personal favorite, America`a A Horse With No Name. The careful selection of songs makes sure you won`t materially PUFF back to Dec 2013, due to a bad case of Jimmy Carter`s infamous Malaise warning to the American people speech.


Just to show you I`m responsible, I did do some internet research on the ABSCAM Scandal after enjoying the fantasy of director David O. Russell`s new movie (the only good one so far for the holidays); I even went over to Half Price Books looking for a title, Robert W. Greene`s account of the unprecedented FBI shake down, The Sting Man, but no cigar, they didn`t have it. Secure in my knowledge that the movie and the real scandal are parallel universes, I can study them with peace of mind; these are autonomous entities, but comparing and contrasting them won`t do em any real damage.


Getting back to the movie itself, I don`t usually rehash the plot such as many reputable film critics do, it`s not my style. I will say, however, the omniscient voice of the narrator (which I believe was Irving Rosenfeld telling his wacky story), was very reminiscent of Henry Hill`s in Martin Scorsese`s Goodfellas. In my playbook that`s a good thing, and the wrinkle in the ending brings the whole movie together with a twist of irony, and one of justice or injustice, depending on which way you choose to run with it. 


Just as a hint to the subtle meaning of this trick ending (in terms of history), we were just coming out of Vietnam and Watergate and on the treacherous threshold of The Reagan Era, if that`s what you`d like to call it. Yea, ribbons and bows were tied nicely together for a change.


While portraying the FBI as fools or as partially criminal themselves, is practically a way to make a living for some, Bradley Cooper`s performance as a loose-goose FBI agent, Ritchie DiMaso takes the cake to a higher level of buffoonery and misapplication of protocol (as his supervisor, Stoddard Thorsen [played wonderfully by Louis C.K.] so often reminds him). It`s the little subplots or character chemistry/dynamics that make this such a 138 minute uproarious romp! I won`t say too much about the acting, I`ll let others rap that rhapsody, other than mentioning it was really great (Robert De Niro as Victor Tellegio raises AH by one full star!). This is it for the holidays, sorry!