Monday, July 02, 2018

OCEAN'S EIGHT -- my review

Here’s the REAL plot of caper movie, OCEAN'S EIGHT – a movie studio is trying to steal $100,000,000 from unsuspecting theatergoers.

What a blatant cash grab. Award-winning actresses cashing big paychecks. Cate Blanchett in this film is like having a Maserati and using it to go to Trader Joe’s to pick up an onion. Anne Hathaway steals the movie by being mildly amusing.

The best thing I can say about OCEAN'S EIGHT is that it’s better than the all-woman remake of GHOSTBUSTERS. But it’s the same principle – take an existing franchise and utilize the current trend.

I could devote an entire post to pointing out the absurd plot holes and inconsistencies. But if you see this movie you won’t need me.

Here are some of the factors that go into good caper movies:

The stings are ingenious.

The person being robbed deserves it.

The crew must pull off seemingly impossible tasks.

Despite all the precision planning, things go wrong, and the crew must improvise to avoid getting caught.


Okay, with that in mind…

SPOILER ALERT -- More on the structure than the specifics.

They rob a $150,000,000 diamond necklace from Cartier… because that’s where the necklace happened to be. So in a sense the movie is glorifying crime. It’s not like Cartier agreed to build Trump’s wall.

Every problem is easily solved. Sarah Paulson needs a great job at Vogue to get inside info on a big party -- poof! She gets it.

When they learn a special magnet prevents anyone from removing the necklace once it’s around someone’s neck, crew member Rihanna just happens to have a sister who is an expert at this (magnetic locks?), is nearby, and solves the problem lickity-split.

Mindy Kalin needs a job in the kitchen?  Grab an apron!  

The plan itself pretty much goes like clockwork. Rarely if ever do we get to see these women have to be resourceful. So there’s practically zero suspense.

And the heist part of the movie is over about an hour in, and if feels like they edited the footage and said, “Shit! We’re short. Now what do we do to fill another half hour?” The insurance investigator plot (with the under utilized James Corden) feels completely tacked on. And other than revealing ridiculous twists and surprises the piece accomplishes nothing – it certainly doesn’t add to the suspense.

There’s not a minute in this movie that you don’t feel they’re going to succeed at every level.

And as for the witty banter, I saw the movie is a full theatre. Aside from some titters along the way there was one solid laugh in the whole film. And that was delivered by James Corden about 70 minutes into the movie and felt like a throwaway line that he ad libbed.

There are some fabulous caper movies if you like the genre. Among them: THE HOT ROCK, THE STING, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (both versions), THE LADY KILLERS, THE KILLING, and THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY.

And there was a British TV series that was wondrous called HUSTLE. Every week the stings were five times as ingenious as OCEANS EIGHT with a terrific cast. Seek it out if you can.

But as for OCEAN'S EIGHT, keep your hand on your wallet when you pass the boxoffice.


Bryan L said...

Hustle, was, indeed, wonderful. Can't say enough good things about it.

Baylink said...

Somebody once pointed it out to me - and I haven't been watching movies long enough to disagree - that The Thomas Crown Affair was memorable because it was the first movie where the bad guy was the hero. Any thoughts on that?

Peter said...

Ken, for real laughs, go see Deadpool 2! Plus, how many summer blockbusters can you think of that manage to work in Papa Can You Hear Me from Yentl?!

Roseann said...

I saw Ocean's 8 and slept thru the beginning.... But the fun part for me came when they were trying to fence the diamonds. It was a star turn for every successful actor who ever worked in NYC. Each was a big surprise-I had worked with most, hadn't seen them in years and had to find the younger face in that older face on the screen. Each made me gasp. My brain couldn't process fast enough. And I loved it!

McAlvie said...

Well, no, it isn't The Thomas Crown Affair ... and it's definitely not in anything like the same league as The Sting. I absolutely agree with you. In fairness, I don't think it's trying to be.

And all you points pretty much apply to the 3 all male versions. In fact, it applies to the original Rat Pack version. Really, the original was just a vehicle for Sinatra and Co, just as the remakes were just bromances for Clooney and Pitt. But they were fun anyway. And as much as I like The Thomas Crown Affair, both versions, it was really just bored and spoiled rich guy with an adrenaline addiction. A rich guy robbing a museum just to prove he could. So while I love the movie, I'm not gonna pretend it was a morality play.

Anyway, I thought Ocean's 8, and all its predecessors, were fun romps, summer escape movies. I'm okay with that. It's a summer movie. They aren't supposed to be deep, just fun.

But I'll agree that anyone who didn't like all the other Ocean's movies because they were shallow, far-fetched, and rather predictable probably won't like this one either.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

The TV show "LEVERAGE" is a genuine heist type show. And it is generally character driven.
And they worked it out on a tiny cable TV budget.

etg said...

Better than Ghostbusters? Then it must be an incredibly good movie.

blinky said...

I am waiting for the all female Lord of the Rings trilogy remake.

VincentS said...

Ken, I can only quote our mutual writing hero, William Goldman, who wrote in his fantastic sequel to ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE, WHICH LIE DID I TELL? (Great story behind the origin of the title, BTW) in commenting on how no one should be surprised at how lousy PHANTOM MENACE was - Sequels (sic) are whore movies. The reasons you make the first movie: artistic; the reason you make the [sequels]: financial. Hey, Shirley Temple single-handedly funded 20th Century-Fox in the 30s. No exaggeration.

therealshell said...

@blinky -

Dhruv said...

OCEAN'S EIGHT – a movie studio is trying to steal $100,000,000 from unsuspecting theatergoers 😂😂😂 Epic sir epic.......

And one more thing I noticed is they have a "politically correct" cast. The cast has more to do with the current "changes" that Hollywood is trying to implement, to include every ethnicity in the cast so as to prevent any criticism.

Am I right?

Will this be the trend in all the future movies?

Ray Morton said...

Friday Question: It seems no one can ever write about MASH without pointing out that the show lasted 11 years but the Korean War only lasted 3. To that point, did the writers and producers have an internal timeline for the show? Thoughts about how long each character was in Korea, approximately what month or year each episode was supposed to take place in, whether all of the freezing cold and heat wave episodes were supposed to take place in the same one or two summers and winters, how many months or years each season was supposed to cover, how the time depicted in the show related to the real time of the war, and so on? Or did they just stop worrying about it after the show went past 3 years?

Dhruv said...

Some underrated caper movies that comes to my mind are "Inside Man" and "Logan Lucky".

"Inside Man" has one of the best background score ever for me by Terence Blanchard. The original version is not available, but here is link to the version used for some YouTube video -

Ted said...

Oceans 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15...... are all crap movies with rich conceited Hollywood assholes coming together for a big payday. Right from Sinatra to the ratty old bitches Clooney and Bullock, all of them are smug scumbags trying to fool the naive public who make the mistake of walking into the theater.

zapatty said...

How do I post a link here ? I have no idea.

Sarah said...

Ken a general question about the reach of your blog.
I wanted to ask this question when you did a movie review. So here it is.

The other day I heard Nancy Travis referencing your blog. And also other people like Zach Braff, Roseanne, Sorkin who read your blog or rather atleast the ones where you mention them.

Question - How many well known Hollywood personalities do you know of, who read your blog or have said so? Or is it some PR agents who are regular readers and notifies their clients when you mention them?

Also for the movie reviews, has anyone reached out to you about reviewing their movie or has anyone reacted to your movie reviews?

After all these years I am sure you must be a regular read for many Hollywood insiders and you must also be knowing. So I am curious to know which famous persons reads the blog.

Comments section names are always anonymous or just some random names. I am sure someone famous must have commented using a random name.

Countries - I am pretty sure most of your readers are from here, with few from Canada and UK commenting.

Hope you answer this question in one of your Friday Questions.

Nice funny review as always :)

Mike Bloodworth said...

Not a movie that I was planning to see anyway. Unless...Is there at least some gratuitous nudity or a hot love scene? Sometimes filth can compensate for a bad plot.

Jonny M. said...

@Dhruv - Your comment about a "politically correct" cast - It's sounds like your claiming that the multi-ethnic cast was a cynical move by the producers to insulate the film from criticism. I think it ignores the fact that every star in the film, no matter the skin color, is really well liked and extremely talented.

If anything, the casting has subjected the film to comments like yours, that questions the motives for casting someone whose skin is brown. Maybe the plot of the movie is weak, but the cast have all proven themselves to be popular and talented and to suggest otherwise isn't what I'd call politically incorrect, it smacks of something closer to judging people by the color of the skin.

therealshell said...

@JonnyM: stop looking for offence where none is intended, for the love of Pete/Patricia ! By the by, it's YOU'RE, not YOUR.

therealshell said...

Friday question: Ken, do you know when the latest series of The Apprentice will end ? I think that I speak for a lot of us when I say that I am not enjoying it.

K said...

"Gimmick" casting shows are always a matter of suspicion to me.
By Gimmick I mean where the casting is applying to the audiences curiousity of how xyz stars work together.
I would place the "expendables" and the Clooney "oceans" series, as well as the original ratpack version. Sometime they work sometimes they don't, usually don't.
That being said I also would place the "long Riders" where acting brothers were cast as brothers in the movie ( Youngers and James brothers with Carradine's, Keach's and Quaid's acting)
Now since we seem to have a plethora of Kate's (Cate's) and multitude of Chris's, why not have a movie cast so as to be all Kate's ( or Cate's) and Chris's.

Carol said...

Seconding the Hustle love. Excellent show. And I would give anything for a Hustle/Leverage crossover television movie. It could totally work - One could easily believe Sophie was on one of Micky's crews at some point in time. Can someone make that happen? Thanks. :)

Myles said...

Not about politics. Barely about the criticism. It's about dollars. Hollywood finally realizes due to films like Fast & Furious that if you make the cast more diverse you'll make the audience more diverse. Everyone likes to see themselves on screen, not just white people, and they are willing to spend money for it. This "trend" is just making up for the bad trend of unrealistic portrayals of the world where we could have a show like FRIENDS or SEX IN THE CITY take place in NY and barely have anyone that wasn't white speak or even be seen. There is/was also a terrible trend of just flat out replacing real life people of color or characters from pre-existing content with white people. The world is a changing and yes movies will continue to reflect that. The shocking part is those other trends were so common now when you see a cast that looks like Oceans 8 it feels "forced." People of color have felt the same way about most casts in most movies/shows for a very long time. There's a saying... "When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression." Substitute the word "oppression" for "politically correct."

flurb said...

Couldn't agree more with your review, Ken. It seemed that Gary Ross was trying to remove suspense instead of create it - at least two plot points that could have been a gold mines of what's-gonna-happen were revealed, exposition-like, near the end. Plus the only character who was vivid enough to be sympathetic was Helena Bonham-Carter's. Sandra Bullock was hateful.

Shortly after we sat through OCEAN'S EIGHT, we had much more fun with Jules Dassin's TOPKAPI, with Melina Mercouri and Maximilan Schell. It's an amiable mess, but Peter Ustinov is hilarious, the break-in scene is really great (though it owes more than a bit to Dassin's earlier RAFIFI, an even better caper, if more fatalistic).

Dhruv said...

@ Jonny M.

10 years ago, would there be a Mindy Kaling as one of the main stars of the movie?


There would have been many roles that could have had actors of Indian origin. Or main roles offered to Indian actors.

But there wasn't.
I am not finding any fault. But just stating the fact.

(Forget the movies that took place in India - there Indians are needed.)

Also to consider is the need to cater to the Indian market.


The number of interviews and articles(delirious ones) printed here, about an Indian actor playing alongside Leo in a Nolan movie was really cringing. That's how Indian media feeds the public about Hollywood's recognition and the roles offered to Indians/Indian origin actors.

You need to be here to see how they are spinning the inclusion of Dileep Rao, Mindy Kaling and others in big movies, to know.

Hollywood too plays the patronizing part quite well.

Overnight, invitation after invitation for the past 2 years to Indian actors to join the Oscars Academy as members and then the barrage of fawning articles, gushing how the west has finally recognized Indians. Why all of a sudden the invitations to join?

- It's the newly discovered market and the need to cater to it.
- And also with talks of "rider inclusion" and the political correct atmosphere there, they have to include actors like Mindy to be on the right side.
- 2 years only white actors got nominated, then after the criticism they got from the American media, came the invitations to all and sundry to join the Academy to showcase diversity.

Am I cynical? Yes.

Do I care if these actors get roles or get invited to join the Academy? No.

I just care for good movies and just making my observation, like others here :)

Dixon Steele said...

Just saw it last week, and...Bingo! Your review is spot-on.

Ted - Bitter, much?

Mike B - Thanks for the MeToo Moment

Dhruv - Try as you might, this is not a Trump lovin' site. Better luck next time.

Breadbaker said...

The original Oceans 11 had the following diverse actor: Sammy Davis, Jr.

Naturally, he played a garbage truck driver.

I'd rather be in 2018, thanks.

E. Yarber said...

I try not to comment on movies I haven't seen, but your account makes it clear that this one suffers from a lazy shortcut I typically find in beginners' scripts.

Strong characters should be judged by how difficult the challenges they overcome manage to be. Too many writers make the mistake of thinking you prove a character is strong by having them WIN as frequently as possible for any flimsy reason at hand, generally by either giving them easy solutions to stiff problems or setting them up against straw-man characters they can easily dominate.

An audience has to feel that any win should be EARNED, not simply handed to the character like an also-ran trophy. A story is about the PROCESS, and the RESULT is merely a means to keep score of the worth of the effort we see expended. Otherwise you could just have 120 minutes of the characters putting coins in a slot machine that miraculously pays off every time, expecting the viewer to cheer mindlessly each time such an obviously contrived success story rewards the leads.

keith a brodkorb said...

ditto on the Hustle-Leverage crossover show, both casts were great and John Larroquette filling in for the recently departed Robert Vaughn as the roper is a great add.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Nothing new about "inclusive" casting, political correctness or whatever term you want. This July 4th, try to catch a couple of WWII movies from the 1940s. Every platoon, bomber crew or submarine had a WASP commander, a guy from Brooklyn (usually Jewish or Italian), a non-specific Southerner who says "dang," and either a Native American or a Latino. Message: We're all in this war together. Buy bonds where you live or work! It just took longer to reach the caper movie. (Come to think of it, ASPHALT JUNGLE has a Southerner, a German, a man with a disability, a corrupt WASPy lawyer and Marilyn Monroe, but they all come to bad ends.)

Jonny M. said...

@Dhruv - I'm going to be honest, that I can't follow what you're talking about in your last comment about Inception.

As to your first comment - Here's your words, "include every ethnicity in the cast so as to prevent any criticism." Sounds like you're saying the actors are being cast not because they are talented but because they check off a box for a certain demographic and having a whole group of them will help deter bad reviews because people will be afraid to bad mouth any cast that includes this many women of color.

I guess you proved them wrong. Of course you seem to be bad mouthing the move BECAUSE it has too many women of color, or is in your words, it's "politically correct."

You don't like the actors. Fine. But I can tell you that a lot of people do and they were cast based on their star power, not on their ability to deflect criticism.

@therealshell - Yes. I took issue with the comment. I think I took @Dhruv statements exactly as he meant them.

By the way. I have no interest in this movie. It looks predictable and unfunny. But I think the idea behind it was the same idea of every big studio summer movie. Get a bunch of stars together and hope that people want to watch. I don't deny that the women who star here have a significant, and deserved, fan base.

Unknown said...

You mean this wasn't meant to be a spoof of Ocean's movies? Oh my.

Dhruv said...

@ Dixon Steele

I am not even an American so your comment makes no sense to me.

@ Jonny M.

I am an Indian. I am talking about including Dileep Rao (in Inception) just for the sake of box office. Now read the comment again. I thought the comment made it clear from what perspective I was talking.

And if you still don't get it, India is the name of a country. And people living here are called Indians. Look it up on the net.
And I was commenting from an Indian perspective.

"women of color"? What? Where did I talk about that?
I am a person of color so, why would I talk about that?
This "women of color" and stuff are issues that are brought up Americans, here (India) skin color is not an issue at all. No one cares.

Mindy Kaling who is of Indian origin was included for the Indian box office. That's how it was sold here. That fact was again and again shoved down our throat, to make us see the movie.

And yes India is the 2nd largest English speaking nation and a very big box office for Hollywood, so the inclusion of so many Indians in recent movies and inviting them to join the academy.

"cast based on their star power" - ya right. Then ask Hollywood to stop selling their movies pointing out that this movie has Indians in it.... That movie has Indians in that..... Then I will believe in true casting.

Ted said...

No just a heads-up to the morons not to watch the movie as I had wised up after seeing the first one. Sadly nobody seems to have warned you Dixon.

Kosmo13 said...

The mention of INSIDE MAN brought a smile to my face. An excellent movie I seldom hear about anymore.

Andrew said...

I actually thought that Oceans 11 (the 2001 remake) was a great movie. It wasn't The Sting, but it certainly was a fun film. The cast chemistry (esp. Clooney, Roberts, and Garcia) worked very well. The plot was contrived, but the writing and acting still sold it.

cadavra said...

Sorry, but my friend and I enjoyed it thoroughly. You know why? Because it's a movie for GROWN-UPS! Clever people doing clever things and having a ball doing it. Plus the only people who suffer are the insurance companies--and frankly, a lot of them deserve it. Finally, to me the appearance of Corden in the third act gives it a real jolt of energy--nice to see HIM playing an adult again as well and not that faux Fallon persona he's adopted for his talk show. This is the kind of mid-range, solid entertainment the studios used to make in their sleep, yet have all but forgotten how to do in their quest to cater strictly to children and dumb teens & millennials. I say bring on another one!

Diane D. said...

I thought the movie was great fun. The performances were terrific, and Helena Bonham-Carter’s performance alone made the movie worth my time—not that I’m a busy person.

Kaleberg said...

Oceans 8 sounds like pretty standard Hollywood "creativity". Let's redo X, except with Y, where X was something that made a lot of money and Y was a cast that they considered bankable. They've been doing this with male actors for years. Now they've decided some female actors are bankable, not that being bankable guarantees that a movie makes a profit. I'm good with that.

If they did an all male remake of Oceans 11, would that be politically correctness in the Trump era? What about an all male remake of The Women? That would be a hoot. It's a pity they can't get Charles Ludlam for the script.

cadavra said...

Actually, the all-male remake of OCEAN'S 11 has already been done. It was called OCEAN'S 11 and starred George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. The original starred Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.