That Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock – whom my friend Kate praised at the start of this flick by exclaiming, “She’s in her fuckin’ fifties, and she looks like that!”) sure knows how to give a pep talk.
The estranged sister of known thief Danny Ocean (George Clooney, who of course called the shots in three previous “Ocean’s” movies) calmly delivers this tongue-in-cheek mission statement to her strong and more-than-capable posse before attempting “one of the biggest jewelry heists in history,” setting the wheels in motion for the latest in the numbered “Ocean’s” series, “Ocean’s 8.”
This time the prize is “big ‘ol dangly Liz Taylor jewels” that have been locked up underground for 50 years.
And Debbie’s had some time – “five years, eight months and 12 days, give or take” – to consider and concoct her perfect plan: to rob the Met Gala.
For snobs who care, it’s “GAL-uh,” not “GAY-luh.”
To help with the job, Debbie carefully assembles a crack team of ladies, including her ex, Lou (Cate Blanchett); jewelry maker Amita (Mindy Kaling); computer hacker extraordinaire Nine Ball (Rihanna, not bad!); Constance (Awkwafina, an absolute delight), a quirky street hustler and wily pickpocket; conventionally unconventional mom Tammy (Sarah Paulson); and Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), whose fashion-designer image is tarnished and who’s up to her wide, ditzy eyes in debt.
But this scheme over which they’re all sophisticatedly salivating isn’t without its glitches – because what’s the fun in that?
Bullock always is a favorite and seems to be having an effortless blast here. And really, all of these ladies are fantastic, each complementing the group in her own way.
I love that these characters are so focused and crafty and acutely dominant, that they’re always seemingly one step ahead while delicately making most of the fellas look like boobs.
One exception is James Corden as Insurance Investigator John Frazier. His fast-talking, I’ve-seen-this-shit-before attitude is pure gold.
Keeping with the stylized “Ocean’s” tradition, director Gary Ross (“Pleasantville”) uses a slew of funky and whimsical transitions – some of which use visual elements from one scene to cross over to the next, such as showing a close up of clothes hangers sliding along a closet rod as a way to guide the next scene into place.
Or having tiles of images flip onscreen like falling dominos, one section at a time, as the action changes settings.
Or showing the picture shifting like a slide puzzle, alternately appearing from the top or bottom of the screen and coming together to bring about a complete, new scene.
And then there’s that music – so consistent and heisty, like the “Pink Panther” theme, without the familiarity. You know what I mean.
I noticed on several occasions the use of mirrors or reflective surfaces, which I initially thought was simply a clever and artsy way to simultaneously show action from wholly different vantage points. And it totally is.
But then I realized it’s also a deceptively sneaky technique to almost offer too much to look at, thereby causing distractions and allowing for unpredictability while we’re busy looking in the wrong direction.
Wink. So smart!
“Ocean’s 8” definitely has a lot going on. There are some surprises and hearty chuckles, and while it’s not overly suspenseful it’s still a thoroughly engaging and oh-so-fun chapter in the “Ocean’s” storybook.
You have just enjoyed the insights of Movie Addict Mel, a cinema dork and conversational writer. Follow her on Twitter @movieaddictmel, and “like” her Facebook page www.facebook.com/movieaddictmel. You also can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.