When Debbie Ocean gets released from the slammer she gathers a gang of thieves to steal a 150 million dollar diamond necklace from round a debutante’s neck at the Met Gala. Maybe she can even get back at an old flame along the way.
Look, I know. I'm not the target demo for this movie so it shouldn't be any surprise that I didn't like this movie. Go ahead and take my thoughts with a grain of salt but I really do believe that my reason's for not liking this film are deeper than the fact that I'm a man. i hope they are anyway.
I'm not going to spend all day trying to make this a fun and hilarious read. "Ocean's 8" doesn't deserve that much effort. If I try to make this funny, well, that would be more than the makers of "Ocean's 8" did. Instead, I'm just going to straight up say all the ways this film fails.
Did you think that there weren't enough holes in Danny Ocean's plots in Ocean's 11, 12, and 13? Not to fear. The heist in this film has so many opportunities for failure and coincidences which aid the girls in their plan that there is never ay doubt at all that they are going to pull it off.
The fun of heist movie is seeing how the team solves unexpected problems. We know they are going to win but it's the how-do-they-win that is interesting. You know what isn't fun? Finding out there is an extra lock on the necklace they are planning on stealing just to have one of the team call a friend we haven't ever met to give them a key for that lock in the very next scene. Extremely minor setback averted.
Don't worry. There are lots of those moments to enjoy in this movie.
As much as this film is banking on the stars bringing in parties of every age of woman, teen to 65, none of them have the charisma or the star power of Clooney or Pitt.
I hate to nitpick but Clooney and Pitt play the kind of characters that guys want to be. They're smart and funny. They can talk their way into a bank vault or a supermodel's hotel room with equal style and ease.
What about the heroines in this film? Sandra Bullock (Gravity) has been in jail for 5 years because a guy she liked betrayed her and she has to beg her friends to help her because they all think this heist is a bad idea. Cate Blanchett (LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring) is scraping by, skimming cash off the top at a club by watering down vodka. Anne Hathaway (Dark Knight Rises) is a vapid socialite who is jealous of the next up and coming Instagram influencer. Mindy Kaling (A Wrinkle in Time) is a diamond appraiser working for her mom who shames her for not having a husband like her sister. Helena Bonham Crater (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) is a failed fashion designer who owes the IRS 200,000 dollars in unpaid taxes.
Do women really want to be like these people?
I won't even get into all the ways that this film builds on these surface descriptions of these characters to create a team that we care about and that cares about each other. I won't because it doesn't.
The humor in an Ocean's movie comes from two things. The characters are confident in themselves, even as they fail, and the characters are funny themselves so they tell jokes to and make fun of each other.
In Ocean's 8 it feels like there is some unwritten rule that none of the girls will ever make fun of each other. Some of these characters are weird but no one seems to act like anything any one does is out of the mainstream. Where is the Matt Damon of this movie that the whole team is making fun of cuz he's a newbie and at the end of the film earns his stripes?
Also, These characters do not seem confident and smart so when they fail in any way, it isn't seen as humorous. It's just a cause for fretting on their part, like they think they might have just lost or something.
I can't overemphasize how not funny this film is. I didn't laugh even one time and I wasn't in a theater by myself. No one in my theater was laughing.
The lack of laughter, the shallow characters, and the bafflingly childish heist plan, all add up to a slow, boring movie which doesn't deserve to share a name with its fast paced, bouncy, clockwork ticking predecessor. It's less than 2 hours but felt like 2 1/2.
Seriously. It's a 2 1/2 hour movie about how it takes 8 people to pick pocket a necklace off a woman who is cooperating with them.
The Hard Sell
One of the worst things about the film is the blatant cash grabbiness of the studio that made it. For a movie that is about infiltrating the Met Gala, it looks cheap. For all the stars in it, there is no one that pulls a paycheck like George Clooney or Brad Pitt.
Don't get me wrong, Sandra Bullock is an A lister, but she's no Julia Roberts. In fact, in this film Sandra Bullock isn't even always Sandra Bullock. Her body double didn't look anything like her but you gotta save money wherever you can when you are making a film that panders to women, right?
Maybe they should have cast just a 2 or 3 big stars and made the rest smaller actors like Ocean's 11 did. Can you name 5 of Ocean's 11? Probably not. So why do all of the 8 have to be stars? It's cuz the studio needs to cast a wide net to get as many butts in seats as they can. They know that a teenager may not see this movie for Sandra Bullock but they might come for Rihanna, and the mom in her early 40s may not know who Akwafina is but they probably know Cate Blanchett.
They didn't want to put all of their eggs in one basket. They opted for 8.
But what if that doesn't work? Women don't see as many movies as men so we gotta hedge our bets a bit. How can we make this movie for even less money? How about product placement?
Keurigs, other kitchen appliances, computers, and bicycles all get their starring moments but Subway is #1 on the call sheet. There is an entire scene that takes place in a subway sandwich shop while one of the 8 orders a sandwich. "Lettuce and tomato, please," is a line in this movie. Maybe they needed something for Akwafina that she could be believable doing.
I know they are planning on making more of these movies. Maybe the next one can be called "Subway's Under $6."
So here is something I was not expecting. This movie for the most part feels, at least in the marketing, like it is supposed to be a girl power, anything you can do I can do better, kind of movie. Trying to follow up "Bridesmaids" and "Ghostbusters" in the current trend of doing girl versions of traditionally guy movies.
So why did they hire a man to direct this film? This would be a perfect movie to give to an up and coming director. Adding a female director would have been good for the marketing too.
Also, if you are going to pass up all the talented female directors out there in favor of a male, why would you choose Gary Ross? The guy they fired the weekend after Hunger Games came out for a better director? If he couldn't be trusted with the next hit teen franchise, why would they trust him with this franchise. I think it's because he's cheap and because "Ocean's 8" is pandering to women.
There's one other way that this movie is weirdly sexist. There is a surprise moment in the film where it is revealed that there was another heist happening and that was the real money maker. Ok, I can go with that. But why is that heist dependent on one of the guys from Ocean's 11, whose name you won't remember because he's not one of the stars, doing the majority of the work involved?
It completely undercuts the idea that these girls are able to pull off this heist on their own. This movie should be called Ocean's 9. There is an absolutely essential member of the crew who gets no credit for his role. It's just played like a reference.
Ugh. I can't keep going. I mean, I can. There's way more to say about how bad this movie is but I don't want to give it anymore of my brainspace. I'm going to try to forget this movie. I suggest you do the same.
If you find yourself thinking you kind of want to recapture the fun of "Ocean's 11" and think maybe "Ocean's 8" will scratch that itch; DON'T.
Watch "Ocean's 11" again. They didn't destroy it. You can just watch it again instead of watching such a lackluster imitation.
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