First came the original. Ocean's 11: A heist movie that was really just an excuse for Frank Sinatra and his buddies (aka the Rat Pack: Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Joey Bishop) to hang out on location, and get paid.
Then came the remake. Ocean's Eleven: A heist movie, (and it's subsequent sequels), that was really just an excuse for George Clooney and his buddies (Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, producer Jerry Weintraub, etc) to one-up the Rat Pack, hang out on location, and get paid.
Now there’s Ocean’s 8. It’s not a remake. It’s not a sequel. It’s a spin-off, born with everyone’s blessing after they swore off more sequels with the untimely death of Bernie Mac. Only this time, it’s a bunch of smart, talented, gorgeous women starring in a heist movie so they could hang out on location, and get paid.
Admittedly, Sandy is not my favorite actor. I haven’t gone out of my way to see her in a leading role since Practical Magic, but she gets the job done emulating the smarmy thievery we have come to love from her dearly departed brother. (Wait, what? Danny’s dead? Was there an Ocean 14 I missed!!??) More on that later.
The Yin to Debbie’s Yang is played by the always amazing Cate Blanchett, as Lou. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Blanchett look this hot on screen. Men AND women sitting around me in the theater were swooning hard. She’s part Brad Pitt, part David Bowie and one hundred percent badass personified. Good luck trying to focus on anything else while she’s on screen.
The rest of the all-female ensemble is a little uneven.
While Sarah Paulson’s Tammy ‘the Fence’ certainly looks great, she’s supposed to knock our socks off by being a former stolen goods wiz who’s been hiding out in suburbia as a housewife for too long, when Debbie calls for one last heist. Unfortunately, my socks remained firmly in place. #Harrumph
Rihanna plays Nine Ball; ‘the Hacker’ of the crew, which is basically the non-singer version of Rihanna in real life. The Barbadian accent, the weed-smoking, and the attitude, are all present and accounted for. Not exactly ‘acting’, but then again, she does serve as a bit of comic relief, and although she spends 95 % of the movie in baggy clothes, knocks it out of the park in a red gown later in the film. #CurvesForDays
Mindy Kaling is CRIMINALLY underused (I know I know, very punny), as the 'Jewel Expert'. She brings the funny, and frankly, she’s never looked more gorgeous on screen, but there’s just not enough for her to really strut her comedic stuff.
The true comedic strutting comes courtesy of Awkwafina (aka Nora Lum), who plays Constance 'the Pickpocket'. I’m obviously late to the party about this rapper/actress/comedian, but dang, better late than never! She is absolutely hilarious and chews up every scene she’s in. I look forward to watching her in Crazy Rich Asians, and need to immediately binge-watch everything she’s ever done.
Helena Bonham-Carter delights as a flaky, washed-up designer from the 90’s, who’s bankrupt and on the verge of going to jail herself. It’s a nice change of pace to see her in something other than a hoity-toity dramatic period piece. (Sorry, but even her turn as Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter films is hoity-toity by comparison.) Side Bar: I just used hoity-toity twice, nay, three times now, and I’m still breathing. Yay me.
Anne Hathaway, in some clever ‘Devil Wears Prada’-inspired casting is fun as the mark of the heist, with the real ‘Devil’ (Vogue’s Anna Wintour) making more than one on-screen appearance. They shot many scenes at the actual Met Gala, so naturally all those annual attendees you scroll through on Instagram the morning after the real Gala, are here on screen in what might be considered the largest ‘cameos’ scene we’ve had in a film since those old Cannonball Run movies from the 80’s. (Welp, I just showed my age.) Or for anyone NOT as old as dirt; every Muppets movie ever.
There are even a couple cameos from the original Ocean’s trilogy, but not the ones you’re probably hoping for. I won’t give them away here, but they are most certainly not the ones you’ve read about in the trades.
Which brings us to those pesky scenes where Debbie is visiting her presumably dead brother Danny’s grave. His name is right there, engraved in marble, with a death date of 2018. This movie is so much fun, and will probably do pretty well at the box office, I’m doubtful Danny will stay dead forever.
Is Ocean’s 8 going to win a lot of awards? Absolutely not. And that’s perfectly ok. It continues the Ocean’s legacy of a fast-paced, smart and funny heist movie where the entire leading cast is all-female, and is absolutely NOT a ‘chick-flick’.