Ocean's 8 Movie Review: Go With Moderate Expectations And You’ll Come Out Smiling
Planning to watch Ocean's Eight this weekend? Read Rajeev Masand's review first.
Image: Twitter/Oceans 8 movie
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, James Corden, Richard Armitage
Director: Gary Ross
Early on in Ocean’s 8, the gender-reversed spin on the all-boys Ocean’s Eleven heist trilogy, one of the protagonists walks into a high-end department store and shoplifts with such remarkable ease, it might be the film’s way of preparing us for the many WTF moments we’re expected to let pass without questioning as the main plot unfolds.
That’s pretty much my chief complaint against this breezy, inoffensive crowd-pleaser…the men had to work a lot harder.
The plot kicks into gear when Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), sister of George Clooney’s deceased con Danny Ocean, is released from prison after serving a five-year stint for art fraud. Hungry for revenge – and because five years clearly wasn’t enough for this leopard to change its spots – she begins assembling a team, enlisting her former partner and friend (Cate Blanchett), a has-been, tax-evading fashion designer (Helena Bonham Carter), a diamond expert (Mindy Kaling), a seasoned hacker (Rihanna), a fast-talking pickpocket (Awkwafina), and a bored stay-at-home mom (Sarah Paulson). The plan is to swipe a 150 million dollar Cartier necklace from the neck of a ditzy movie star (Anne Hathaway) at the glamorous Met Gala.
As tends to be the case with such films, there’s more fun in the planning than in the actual heist itself, and while you will roll your eyes plenty at just how conveniently these ladies bypass major obstacles, it all moves so briskly there’s no time to pause and ponder.
It’s also true that the film is a lot less funny than it ought to have been. There are moments and characters that pop – Helena Bonham Carter is a complete hoot, Anne Hathaway does a delicious parody of the entitled self-obsessed Hollywood diva, and rapper Awkwafina steals virtually every scene she’s in, especially an exchange with Bullock over a metro card. But the laughs are sporadic, and it’s a crime they didn’t give Mindy Kaling more room to exploit her comedic gifts.
Unlike the Ocean’s Eleven films in which the men really came together as a fully synchronized group, you can’t help feeling that the ladies here do get their moments to shine individually, but seldom make magic as a unit.
Still, director Gary Ross knows his audience and shrewdly cranks up the fashion and the glamour factor, giving us loving wide shots of glitzy gowns and never ending trails, and a slew of celebrity cameos as they ascend the steps of the Met. Frequently I felt like I was watching Sex and the City but without the sex, and without the self-indulgent whining of Carrie Bradshaw. Ocean’s 8 is enjoyable, not least because these are some of the most talented, gorgeous women turning on the charm. Sometimes that’s all you need for a good time at the movies. Go in with moderate expectations, and chances are you’ll come out smiling. I’m going with three out of five.
Rating: 3 / 5
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