Plot: Daddy Foxx (Yaphet Kotto) is a hustler of immense skill, known by everyone in his Chicago neighborhood. He tends to keep his hustles small, letting young guys from the area make a few bucks under his supervision. Foxx teaches them the ropes of the flim flam, so they can earn a little without risking prison or worse. And in a neighborhood filled with hustlers and con men, his under the radar operations rarely arouse much suspicion at all. But rival hustler Goldie (Rudy Ray Moore) thinks Foxx is wasting his time on small time stunts and tries to recruit his helpers, which creates some friction between the two. But even their rivalry isn’t the main talk of the town, instead news that an expressway is planned has everyone on edge. After all, the construction would demolish thousands of homes and pretty much wipe their neighborhoods out, leaving them all with nowhere to turn. But can all the hustlers, con men, and hucksters put aside their differences and focus on saving their neighborhoods?
Entertainment Value: If you’re interested in The Monkey Hustle because of Rudy Ray Moore, you should know that he does have several appearances, but he isn’t a lead or prominent presence. This is still a fun, colorful movie, but I wanted to note that, as the home video marketing suggests he is the prime focus. While hustling is the central theme here, the real driving force behind The Monkey Hustle is the eclectic and colorful cast, all of whom are fun to watch. Moore’s outrageous fashion sense is on full showcase, while Kotto plays the wise, veteran street hustler with great skill. The rest of the ensemble is quite good too and since the movie takes some time to provide a little background, even smaller roles seem important here. The chemistry is good too, so the neighborhood feels like a real community and that adds a lot to the experience. The ending is rushed and doesn’t make much sense, but the feel good finale seems like the right choice. If nothing else, it allows for a fun, wild way to cap things off. While not as action packed or over the top as most blaxploitation, The Monkey Hustle is a solid, well made movie that rarely fails to entertain.
One set of boobs during a rushed groping session, but that’s all the flesh. No blood, though we do get some fist fights and one cat fight, complete with a savage wig snatch as a bonus. The dialogue here is fun and seems natural, with all the jive talk you’d expect from a movie about hustling on the streets. Of course, Rudy Ray Moore is always good for a line and that holds true here. His wild wardrobe overshadows the dialogue, but he has some sharp moments here. As I said, this isn’t as over the top as some in the genre and that holds true with the lines, which are fun, but rarely outlandish. But with this group of colorful characters, you know some good lines are delivered. Aside from those colorful characters and Moore’s outrageous clothes, The Monkey Hustle is pretty grounded and never gets too crazy.
Overall Insanity: 1/10