Writer/Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, Richard Armitage, Dakota Fanning
It’s been a few years since I watched the Ocean’s 11 trilogy from director Steven Soderbergh. 12 and 13 may have seemed excessive, yet I welcome 8 with open arms. How can you not given its fierce cast with Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, and Helena Bonham Carter to name just a few. Bullock leads the way as Debbie Ocean who has followed in the footsteps of her big brother, Danny Ocean, the George Clooney character from Ocean’s 11. She’s been released from prison following her five-year stint for grand theft. Debbie wastes no time when released by shoplifting some cosmetics and making her way into a swanky hotel room without getting caught. Despite vowing a life without crime, she is up to her old tricks after reuniting with her partner in crime, Lou (Blanchett). She divulges her latest scheme to Lou that’s been five years in the making. She has her eyes on the Met, which will be unveiling a new exhibit displaying the crown jewels and other accessories from European royalty.
It’s weeks away from the infamous Met Gala opening the display, so time is ticking for Debbie to round up a crew of jewel thieves (Kaling), hackers (Rihanna), and a fashion designer (Bonham Carter) to put her plan in place. Part of that plan is to steal a $150 million Cartier necklace that is currently locked away in their guarded vault. In order to get it out, they need to lure in actress Daphne Kluger (Hathaway) who’s the hostess for the night and convince Cartier to loan her the necklace for the gala. If all goes to plan, Debbie’s eight-member crew will walk away with $16.5 million each.
I’m already afraid that this film will get the same backlash the new Ghostbusters remake faced, so let me just set the record straight. I really enjoyed that film, and the same goes for Ocean’s 8 for different reasons. Ghostbusters was pure comedy pandemonium. Ocean’s 8 may not be as funny as you’d expect given how great Sandra Bullock is at comedy as it leans more on it being a slick heist film. Ocean’s 8 was written and directed by Gary Ross whose resume ranges from Big and Pleasantville to The Hunger Games. Ross gets it right in terms of making a successful remake (of a remake) by honoring the previous movies, setting it in the same universe, having select cameos, and yet doesn’t rely on nostalgia to carry the movie. He goes in a fresh direction, and you don’t have to have seen the others to enjoy this one. Most noticeably, he utilizes an all-female cast and shies away from the standard bank or casino heist by placing them at the Met Gala.
The casting is spot-on. It’s a treat to see three Oscar winners (Bullock, Blanchett, Hathaway) and Emmy winner Sarah Paulson, who are known for tackling heavier projects, shake things up and let loose with these characters with the fun that can be had with a heist story. Don’t expect Oscar-caliber performances as it’s not that kind of movie. They all know what movie they’re starring in and make the most of it. Blanchett is flawless and never feels out of place. It’s a Carol reunion for her with Paulson. I get the impression Hathaway is reveling in making fun herself or other obnoxious actress types. She may end up being your favorite member of the ensemble as it’s a callback to her comedic days of The Devil Wears Prada and The Princess Diaries. Bonham Carter is another treat as she can play kooky like none other. Leading the pack is Sandra Bullock who is the perfect choice to follow in George Clooney’s footsteps. They’re great friends in real life and co-starred together in Gravity. You trust Bullock, so you believe her character Debbie knows exactly what she’s doing and how she’ll get away with it.
Ross wastes no time with building an exposition or backstory. We quickly learn she’s Danny Ocean’s sister who shares that family reputation, and Ross gets the ball rolling introducing the rest of her crew and what their roles will be. There aren’t any wasted scenes or bits that roll on for too long, which is something that plagued Ghostbusters. The plan by feel a bit hokey and elaborate, but the thrill of the movie comes with watching the execution of the heist unfold. It’s not so much a question as to if the ladies succeed but waiting to see what twists the writers come up with for the reveal.
Ocean’s 8 is a mix of Miss Congeniality meets The Devil Wears Prada meets Ocean’s 11. If you follow fashion and the Met Gala each year, you’ll notice the fine attention to detail to the real event with fun cameos by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, designer Zac Posen, his annual date Katie Holmes, and more. It’s a great sneak peek inside the big night. I would certainly revel in a follow up with these actresses and welcome higher stakes for the sequel.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Ocean’s 8 is no con, as this is slick summer fun.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS