‘Ocean’s 8’ review: All-female heist movie saved by powerhouse cast
Imagine being invited up to someone’s cottage for the weekend, and once you arrive, the weather takes a turn for the worse, bugs come out in droves and you’re stuck inside. Sounds awful, right? But what if you’re joined at the cottage by some great friends who make the time fly by, and it ends up not being so bad after all? In fact, you find yourself laughing in spite of it all, and you realize you’re having a lot of fun.
That’s Ocean’s 8. The movie’s premise — the big heist of expensive jewelry from the Met Gala — is so ridiculous and unbelievable that you’ll scoff, but the women you spend nearly two hours with make the trip to the theatre worthwhile.
How can a cast make an unbelievable movie so good?
The cast’s likability is off the charts. Really, the combination of female superstars is such a spectacle in and of itself that the movie’s plotline takes a back seat. Think about the star wattage here: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway and Awkwafina, all together as the main ensemble, is a crazy amount of celebrity power across all spectrums.
Director Gary Ross (who also co-wrote the screenplay along with Olivia Milch) struggles to give each of them enough screen time, and in the end it feels like half of the leads are wasted. This is why the best scenes feature the group en masse, when they can play off of each other’s various idiosyncrasies. Bullock, Blanchett and Hathaway get the most face time, with the others filling in the gaps.
It’s also a blast to watch the
insane plan in action as the wheels spin and the pieces fall into place.
Any standouts among the cast?
Bullock, as crafty criminal Debbie Ocean (sister to George Clooney’s Danny from the previous films of the franchise), is always a pleasure as the lead, and she doesn’t disappoint here — though at times she seems to be sleepwalking. Blanchett is the wry, streetwise sidekick to Debbie; her main task is to make sure the con machine is running smoothly, all while looking smoking hot. Truly, Blanchett’s stylist deserves a medal here.
A surprise is Hathaway, who embraces her celebrity character, Daphne Kluger (Diane Kruger?). She’s so deliciously self-absorbed and clueless (or so we think) it’s fun to watch her interact. Bonham Carter absolutely knocks it out of the park as designer Rose Weil. Kaling, Rihanna and Awkwafina are pushed to the side, but all three have their moments. The most criminally underused is Paulson, who barely makes a dent in the main storyline.
There’s a lot of criticism of the movie online. What are its weak points?
Many critics are focusing on the storyline’s ridiculousness. If you overanalyze the movie and Ocean’s plan, you can poke holes in it all day long. The Met Gala is one of the biggest celebrity events of the year, and there’s just no way someone could pull this off. But this is a fun comedy, not meant to be picked at and prodded, so if you take it for what it is, it’s a romp.
And memories are short — were the original Ocean‘s movies’ plots that plausible? Methinks not. One other quibble is, in this film, Ocean’s entire scheme is done, at least in part, to get revenge on a man. The whole point of Ocean’s 8 is to highlight female power and what women are capable of, so it’s a shame that had to be a plot point.
So what’s the bottom line?
A fun romp jam-packed with celebrities, it’s hard not to enjoy Ocean’s 8. It’s only when you’re nitpicking or overanalyzing that the glaring holes start to appear. This is summer, and undoubtedly this is a summer movie, replete with an immensely satisfying ending. And by the look of it, this may not be the last Ocean’s movie we see.
‘Ocean’s 8’ is now playing in theatres across Canada.Follow @CJancelewicz
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