Hollywood recycles, composts, and grows new story-gardens. It retrofits, jury-rigs, jerry-builds, and cobbles. Take the “Ocean’s” franchise: exit the dudes, bring on the ladies.
What do we get? An exchange of the bad-boy nouveaux Rat Pack for bad-girl high fashion. Is it good? It’s definitely good for popcorn. It’s guilty-pleasure good. You’ll tell your male friends you didn’t like it. But you did. You liked it.
George Clooney was Danny Ocean, but now Danny’s dead. So let’s tell a story about his little sister Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), also a master thief. She’s about to get out of jail.
First thing out of the slammer, she steals something. It’s such a brilliant piece of filching, so simple, it kind of leaves you breathless. You’ll wonder, “I wonder why I’ve never even thought of that.”
For those who’ve never seen one of them, the “Ocean’s” franchise is about a pack of upscale thieves, who, like Robert Redford and Paul Newman in “The Sting,” pull off masterpieces of meticulously choreographed thievery, staying slightly ahead of the authorities (and the audience). And when Mr. Murphy crashes the party, they go off script and improvise like a great jazz ensemble. That’s Mr. Murphy of Murphy’s Law.
Five Years in the Clink, Planning Fiendishly
Debbie Ocean landed in jail not because of her lack of stealing prowess, but because she fell for a dastardly dude. She’s got a new heist planned. Once she gets back out, she aims to do one last big job, retire, and simultaneously take down said dastardly ex-boyfriend.
“Ocean’s 8” refers to Debbie’s eight thief buddies. First off, there’s Lou (Cate Blanchett). She and Debbie used to con people at bingo, but now Lou’s a club owner, going straight. Except she can’t quite kill that nagging urge to teach her bartenders how to water down drinks.
But before we get to the rest of the team, let’s talk about what kind of heist Debbie’s been thinking about for five years. She fancies stealing an exceedingly weighty, $150-million diamond necklace that’s been locked in Cartier’s basement vault for 30 years. How will she do this? Someone will abscond with the necklace—at the most exclusive fête in America: The Met Gala (the glitterati and power-people fundraising benefit for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City).
So, as you can see, the reality factor is rather low. But seeing the likes of Heidi Klum, Kim Kardashian, and Gigi Hadid traipsing around The Met in sparkling gowns is the pleasurable veneer that lies to your common sense (which knows the movie is a bunch of silly nonsense) and crops up as guilty misgivings in your subconscious later. However, not that big a deal. It’s a first-world problem.
So where were we? Her team. But wait; how will they get the necklace to the grand ball? Somebody’s got to wear it there—who? Anne Hathaway plays Daphne Kluger, a diva actress about whom much media fuss will inevitably be made, such as which fashion maven will dress her, what she’ll wear, and—what awesome jewelry will adorn her world-famous neck. Bingo.
Helena Bonham Carter plays the slightly out-of-favor, controversial, Irish fashionista, in Bonham Carter’s stock-in-trade, wild-haired, ditz mode.
OK, now back to the crew: Mindy Kaling is Amita, the jeweler who knows how to scan the original necklace and come up with a fake. She also knows how to turn the necklace into many other, different, pieces of jewelry, ripe for fencing.
Tammy (Sarah Paulson) is a suburban mom, who fences. Not foil, saber, or épée fencing. She’s got a garage full of hot merch, which she tells her husband is for eBay.
Awkwafina plays Constance, a skater chick, three-card Monte, pick-pocketing, and watch-snatching genius.
Rihanna plays the resident computer hacker, and I am reminded whenever I see this underused showbiz goddess with her bronze cheekbones, turquoise eyes, and five-mile-long lashes that there should be a movie called “Rihanna,” where we just sit and look at her face for two hours straight. But I digress.
James Corden rounds out the team as the not-quite-on-the-team insurance investigator John Frazier, who’s been after the Ocean siblings for so long and has so much admiration for their “artistry” that he’s almost like family. He also just about steals the film from the lady-folk.
Don’t go. It’s a meh see-it-in-the-theater film. Which makes it an “I’m so glad we rented this from Red Box” film.
The problem with the “Ocean’s” films is that you’ve got a bunch of heavy-hitter stars who don’t get enough to do to be able to demonstrate their particular acting wares.
Bullock, a former Waldorf student (where they teach German from kindergarten through grade 12), looks like she’s finally getting to have some acting fun when she has a few flawless German exchanges with Heidi Klum, and a further hissy fit (used as a distraction) in fluent German.
Mindy Kaling never gets a chance to throw down the witty repartee that’s her forte.
Only Hathaway really shines, wickedly sending up the Hollywood star system with her particular brand of not-as-stupid-as-you-thought, gorgeous airhead.
It has lots of plot twists and turns that can’t be talked about, of course, but you can bet this’ll allow the franchise to continue further. This is only 8. So 9, 10 … What will they call “Ocean’s 11?” Ocean’s 11 2?
Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, James Corden
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (for language, drug use, and suggestive content)
Release Date: June 8
Rated 2.5 stars out of 5