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Rebel Wilson blames sexism for The Hustle’s “extremely unfair” R-rating

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Kayleigh Dray
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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 11: Rebel Wilson attends the premiere of Isn't It Romantic at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on February 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

“I thought it was extremely unfair that a reboot of that was given an R-rating just because two sexy ladies were in it,” she said.

In 2016, Melissa McCarthy led a group of female comedians in a fight against ghosts for an all-female remake of the classic Eighties movie, Ghostbusters. Last year we were treated to Ocean’s 8, a heist movie fronted by eight incredible and diverse women rather than… well, George Clooney. Both films were panned by snobby critics, but loved by audiences and both earning over $200 million at the box office.

This year, it seems The Hustle – a gender-flipped reboot of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson – will be enduring a similar experience in cinemas. 

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Set in the south of France, the film sees Josephine Chesterfield (Hathaway), a glamorous Brit with a penchant for defrauding gullible wealthy men, team up with Penny Rust (Wilson), a fun-loving Aussie who amasses wads of cash by ripping off her marks in neighborhood bars, in an attempt to swindle a naïve tech billionaire (Alex Sharp).

Despite Hathaway and Wilson’s winning chemistry, though, reviews of The Hustle have been less than complimentary, with the film scoring a measly 17% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this article’s publication. 

Now, speaking to Yahoo!, Wilson has revealed that The Hustle initially received an R rating from the MPAA and had to petition to get that reduced. Noting that 1988’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin – was classified a PG, Wilson claimed that sexism was the reason for the harsher rating.

“I thought it was extremely unfair that a reboot of that was given an R-rating just because us two sexy ladies were in it,” the actress said. “I thought it was quite sexist that male-driven comedies were much more likely to get PG ratings…when, on a scientific analysis, female-driven comedies had less swear words, less nudity and less violence.”

Wilson’s argument ultimately persuaded the ratings board to overturn their previous decision, downgrading The Hustle’s R-rating to a PG-13.

In the same interview, Hathaway noted that she has often wondered if women are treated differently in comedy films to their male co-stars. Indeed, she recalled instances where she delivered jokes on set, only to see them presented entirely differently in the final film.

“Sometimes I felt like the joke got cut off a little bit,” she said. “It could have been that I wasn’t very funny! So I don’t necessarily want to claim gender inequality for that one. I just might not have stuck the landing.”

Wilson added: “I don’t think there’s an intent to make the female characters less than. It’s more just because those movies are typically written by guys and directed by guys, so you’re working at a disadvantage even from the script level when you come in as the chick in the film. It’s so cool to this movie where we’re both there every day in these two comic set-pieces just bringing it.”

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It’s worth noting that this woman-led remake doesn’t just see Hathaway and Wilson take centre stage: women are calling the shots behind the scenes, too. The Hustle script was written by Jac Schaeffer, who also co-wrote the Captain Marvel film starring Brie Larson, as well as the script for Scarlett Johansson’s first solo film as Black Widow.

The Hustle is scheduled for release in UK cinemas on 10 May.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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