Film Review: OCEAN’S 8 (USA 2018) ***1/2

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TV Program

Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.

Director:

Gary Ross

Writers:

Gary Ross (screenplay by), Olivia Milch (screenplay by) | 3 more credits »

 

OCEAN’S 8 (original title OCEAN’S EIGHT) has almost nothing in common with the other OCEAN movies.  There is no casino, no rat pack and no Steven Soderbergh directing, though Soderbergh has producer credit.  Matt Damon of the OCEAN films makes a quiet cameo while the atmosphere of the crime caper is kept intact.  As most are aware of by now, OCEAN’S EIGHT is a female spin-off of the rat pack OCEAN films.  The female rat pack rob the prize jewels during the annual Mets benefit gala dinner.

The film opens with Debbie Ocean (Oscar Winner Sandra Bullock) released from jail when she promises to live the simple life.  Yea, right.  She has no intention whatsoever to alter her life of crime.   Inspired by her brother, Danny Ocean, Debbie attempts to pull off the heist of the century at New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala.  Her first step is to assemble the perfect crew (which the film introduces one by one): Amita (Mindy Kaling), an Indian jewel expert, Tammy, (Sarah Paulson), a now housewife, previously Debbie’ crime partner, best friend, Lou (Oscar Winner Cate Blanchett), Asian thief, Constance (Awkwafina), Tech savvy genius, Nine Ball, (Rihanna) and Rose (Helena Bonham Carter).   Bell will wardrobe mega-star Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) who will be wearing $150 million worth Cartier necklace that they will steal together with other assorted jewellery at the Met Museum.   More fun is entered into the proceedings with insurance investigator, John Frazier (late night show host James Corden) behaving like an efficient but sarcastic Sherlock Holmes.

The actors appear to be having a really good time particularly Carter,  Hathaway and Corden and their enthusiasm rubs off well on the audience.

In these times of female equality, it is good to see a solid well-made female crime caper.  What is immediately notable is that there are no fights, firepower, pyrotechnics or car chases. It is a tough task to keep audience attention from waning and suspense sustained.  The script co-written by Olivia Milch and Ross (director of SEABISCUIT, PLEASANTVILLE, THE HUNGER GAMES and writer of BRUBAKER, BIG) and direction by Ross achieve the rare feat.  The film runs over two hours and the only time I glanced at my watch was tat the 2-hour mark.

Those who are in the know of the haute couture industry (sorry – you are not, if you do not know who Anna Wintour or André Leon Talley are) will enjoy this film more for the appearances of cameos, the familiarity of fashion events and a few fashion inside jokes.  The filmmakers have assembled a stunning cast of cameos, like Matt Damon, Carl Reiner and Elliot Gould as well as a whole lot playing themselves such as  Anna Wintour, Zayn Malik, Katie Holmes, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Kim Kardashian, Adriana Lima, Kylie Jenner, Alexander Wang, Kendall Jenner, Olivia Munn, Zac Posen, Hailey Baldwin, Derek Blasberg and `Lauren Santo Domingo.

Don’t expect any life lessons or messages as the film does the reverse, promoting theft and embezzlement as well as promoting the satisfaction from exacting a revenge. But the film, provides classy, sophisticated entertainment in place silly fodder like BLOCKERS, LIFE OF THE PARTY and I FEEL PRETTY that have fart and shit (though there are puke) jokes.

Female version of Hollywood blockbusters have done critically like the recent female GHOSTBUSTERS.  OCEAN’S 8 cost a hefty $70 million.  The former film was the most successful comedy at the box-office of that year but only made a tiny profit due to its huge cost.  OCEAN’S 8 might be in the same boat.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFWF9dU5Zc0

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