Movie review: Ocean’s Eight

Awkwafina appears on the cover of the Spring 2017 edition of UAlbany

The family saw Ocean’s Eight (or Ocean’s 8) at the Spectrum in Albany without any of us having seen any of the previous Ocean’s Eleven George Clooney/Brad Pitt trilogy (2001/2004/2007). Nor did I see Ocean’s 11 (1960) with Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack.

The first few minutes, I wondered whether a foreknowledge of the Clooney films was necessary, as Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) is at the tomb of her late brother Danny, who died in 2018. The chatter with her old friend Lou (Cate Blanchett) is a bit tedious.

But then they recruit the team, and they are mostly a lot more interesting. Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter) is a 1990s clothes designer considered washed-up by the fashion media; thirty years ago, she would have been played by the late, great Carol Kane.

Rihanna plays Nine Ball, who knows electronics. New motion picture academy member Mindy Kaling’s Amita knows jewels. Sarah Paulson is Tammy, the conflicted suburban mom, who knows how to move product.

Lou and Debbie see potential in Constance (Awkwafina), a street hustler. Not incidentally, Awkwafina, appears on the cover of the Spring 2017 edition of UAlbany, the University at Albany Magazine; the woman a/k/a Nora Lum received at B.A. from there in 2011.

But it’s Anne Hathaway who steals the film as the seemingly vacuous Daphne Kluger. Part of the movie feels like a clever takedown of celebrity culture and the fashion world. There are many cameos by people such as Heidi Klum, Common, Serena Williams, and various Kardashian/Jenner types.

The revenge angle of the film, involving Richard Armitage as Claude Becker, Debbie Ocean’s former flame, never really held my interest.

Yet the heist itself, and the twist at the end, was rather clever. To the degree the movie works, it’s based on the star power, including James Corden as insurance inspector John Frazier. He almost always looks like James Corden, yet I bought into him in the role.

Ocean’s Eight is not a great film, and probably not a good heist flick, but it’s an amicable one, and the less you know beforehand, the better you may enjoy it.

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