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Ocean's 8 isn't goog but is it fun?

by: Sumit Chaulagain
10 June, 2018

‘The film is never less than breezy entertainment, but never more than an unimaginative diversion,’ writes critic Caryn James.

Why has a man directed Ocean’s 8? That’s the obvious question about the all-female extension of the Ocean’s franchise, with Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, sister of George Clooney’s Danny. Heists run in their family, as Debbie masterminds a girls’ group of thieves trying to purloin some jewels during the Met Gala.

It turns out that Gary Ross’s style, or lack of it, is the uneven film’s major liability

The real question, though, is why this male filmmaker, Gary Ross? It turns out that the female version of the story was his idea, so he directed and wrote (with Olivia Milch). It also turns out that his style, or lack of it, is the uneven Ocean’s major liability.

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Ross’ career is loaded with popcorn movies no better than they have to be, such as  Pleasantville, Seabiscuit and the first Hunger Games, which got by on the strength of Jennifer Lawrence. The all-star cast in Ocean’s 8 – which includes Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna and Anne Hathaway – creates some comic highlights. The film is never less than breezy entertainment, but never more than an unimaginative diversion. Ross brings a safe, pedestrian approach to a genre that should be crackling with wit and zooming through an intricate plot faster than the audience can guess what’s coming.

The story is based on the sexist premise that women thieves – and by implication women viewers – are all about fancy clothes and jewels. That superficial idea is laid over the standard Ocean’s blueprint. Beneath her cute name, Debbie is a hardened con woman who has spent five years in prison working out a foolproof plan: to make sure that a Hollywood star (Hathaway, convincing as an especially self-absorbed swan) wears a $150 million (£112m) Cartier necklace to the ball, unaware of the plot to lift it from her neck.

As in the three Las Vegas-set Ocean’s movies directed by Steven Soderbergh, this one spends some time lining up the team. The results are surprisingly erratic, depending on each actress’ effectiveness at spinning the script into something better.

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