Is there any hot take as lukewarm as the old “Die Hard Is a Christmas movie” canard? If your Yule-set movie features Alan Rickman as a villain but isn’t set at Hogwarts, you’re in trash company. So this holiday season, amid the annual debate about what exactly can be considered a Christmas film, we would like to talk about one movie and one movie only: Lorene Scafaria’s post–financial crash, true-crime caper about strippers orchestrating a con. That’s right. Hustlers is a holly, jolly Christmas classic.
One of the centerpieces of the movie is an approximately Irishman-length Christmas gathering, where the hustlers themselves come together to reap one great benefit of their scam against finance bros: the ability to spoil one another to death. They exchange furs and boots, Louboutins with bottoms as red as Rudolph’s nose. They have a feast, take pictures, dance, wear turtlenecks. It’s massively festive in its own right, and it underscores what makes Hustlers so seasonally appropriate: The true spirit of Christmas is stuff — the art of buying it, and the joy of receiving it. Few Christmas movies revel in the spoils of shopping more than Hustlers. It may be a cautionary tale in the end, but it’s also brimming with consumerist delights. As Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) says about a comically massive Louis Vuitton, “a bag can never be too big.” This is the exact philosophy behind Santa’s sack.
And speaking of furs, the sheer amount of mink in this movie! At the very start, J.Lo wraps Constance Wu in her coat like a mama snowy owl sheltering a chick under her wing. Everyone knows that fur is the guiding sartorial motif of Hustlers and Christmas, both. The amount of holiday touches in the film are basically endless from there. Characters habitually make it snow, whether they’re doing lines or gleefully tossing bills in the air. There’s plenty of silver and gold, obvious tributes to Burl Ives. It’s glittery and bright, in the way all of the best New York City streets–set Christmas movies are. There’s even a cozy cooking montage! Sub out ketamine for Christmas cookies, and it would be right at home in a Lifetime movie.
Above all, though, Hustlers is a story of family, chosen and otherwise. Destiny falls into Ramona’s scheme for the sisterhood of it all, because what Ramona and Mercedes and Annabelle can offer her is truly more than money can buy. Together, their hustle feels righteous, because the world doesn’t actually operate according to a naughty-and-nice list, even if we wish it did. In their battle against the poorly behaved boys of Wall Street, we’re happy to see these women serve up coal in Brooks Brothers stockings, befurred arm in befurred arm. If all that doesn’t make Hustlers a Christmas movie, then I don’t know what does. When you think about it, isn’t Santa the most famous guy to ever work a pole?