Monday, June 11, 2007


RUNTIME: 122 min.
RATING: ***1/2

The latest OCEAN movie isn’t exactly bad; in fact it is good. The OCEAN movies work on the basics i.e. character development, story telling stuff like that which never get outdated and are more often than not the surest way for a good movie. Add to that the talents of Clooney, Pitt and Damon helmed by Soderbergh and you have got more than what is necessary for a sure shot success formula. These movies work especially like one of those sitcoms where the charm of the characters makes even the silliest of jokes funny. Ditto here. Only that, the individual charm sure is intact but as a whole it is wearing thin.
The second one that was a party many felt uninvited to would be particularly satisfied as this one returns back to the formula of the first. Just in case you forgot the eleven, Daniel Ocean (George Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) are the architects, the planners behind every score. Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) is the superb trickster. Anything to be blasted and you turn to Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle). And for anything else from hacking to machinery, you turn to the ever quarrelling Malloy brothers, Virgil (Casey Affleck) and Turk (Scott Cann). Livingstone Dell (Eddie Jemison) is the expert with surveillance and bugging. Old Sam (Carl Reiner) is just that, an old conman. Frank Catton (Bernie Mac) is your vintage inside man with a superb background as a casino gambling operator. Yen (Shaobo Qin) is the physical genius, bending into anyplace. And last but certainly not the least, more so for this movie is Reuben (Elliot Gould) with all the insider knowledge of all the casinos. Reuben decides to go straight in the casino business and in the process is deceived with his land and money by Vegas casino man Rudy Bank (Al Pacino). Reuben, losing all his money suffers an all but fatal heart attack. Rudy Bank was one of the people who shook hands with Frank Sinatra and now by duping Reuben has broken the code. Ocean and his crew gather around Reuben’s death bed and decide to avenge him. How they do it and what are the odds to get even is OCEAN’S THIRTEEN.
The performances are what drive a movie like this. George Clooney is right back after his rather uninspired turn in THE GOOD GERMAN. And back is the good old charm. One thing that always amazes me about Clooney is the impassive expression he so effortlessly draws out; every time he does that I just can’t help laughing. And his chemistry with Pitt is as good as ever. Pitt is sleepwalking too, although neither the role nor his performance is as remarkable as the earlier two. Damon is as good as ever. The supporting members of the Ocean family all have their moments, especially Carl Reiner. As for Pacino, he is okay. Loud as he is nowadays, there isn’t anything special about it. One interesting thing, Scott Caan gets to act in a movie alongside Pacino and his father James Caan was Sonny in THE GODFATHER. Speaking of which, Ellen Barkin is the one being seduced here after she was the seductress in the Al Pacino starrer SEA OF LOVE.
It is the premise that is the weak link in the chain. One was a decent caper, a self mocking one that knew where to be smart and where to be funny. The second one was just something else. But the third here lacks the smartness of the original and doesn’t improve even half a notch in the fun aspect. I know it is supposed to be silly; in fact I like it for that. Caper movies that come across as serious are most often stupid. Movies like ENTRAPMENT are an insult to the intelligence of even the lowest common denominator among the audience. But here the silliness gets a bit too far. The radio controlled dice to rig the craps table is fine; I was okay with sending the Malloy brothers to Mexico. But what is with that earthquake machine. And I was most disappointed with how they decide to go for the actual diamonds on the rooftop. I mean, this is all they could come up with. Or are they taking their audiences for granted? This sure is not smart silliness, this is bordering on laziness. I know that Soderbergh and Clooney are running this franchisee for the sole purpose of bankrolling their artistic endeavors; THE GOOD GERMAN, SOLARIS. And make no mistake, I respect that, rather I support that. But don’t take these audiences for granted. Next thing you know, the OCEAN movies are dead and buried.
The fun aspect is right up there. This franchisee, being for the lowest commonest denominator among the audiences, is so funny its silliness might just be overlooked. Be it Clooney’s expressions, impassive ones sometimes, be it Pitt eating and unleashing his charm, or Damon with his nose. I like how they called the nose “Adrian”; guess you guys know who it referred to. And Reiner’s shooting at Pacino was real funny, “Hey, you’re being conned out of everything and you just look at us like a fool.”
But still, there rings a feeling of disappointment. OCEAN’S THIRTEEN is no SPDIERMAN 3 or SHREK THE THIRD to fall flat on its face. Neither is AT WORLD’S END to be a fitting finale. It is like one of those sitcoms, say FRIENDS. The best seasons are funny and smart and that is what you would recommend to a first timer. But some of the stupidest seasons are the ones you would be less exuberant about. You would love them for sure; how could you not? You cannot hate them, but you know that deep down that it is being trash that is being served out. OCEAN’S THIRTEEN isn’t trash; oh boy, it is very good. But I love the OCEAN movies and I love Danny, Rusty and Linus. But I am a wee bit less excited after watching this movie. Brad Pitt in an interview has said that they are gunning for the maximum sequels, with same stars; movies like ROCKY. Well Bernie Mac has an interesting line here that goes, “You don’t repeat the gag, you make a new one.” I guess they forgot to implement it this time around. If they intend to keep financing their artistic interests, please pay a lot more attention on the plot. And if you don’t, please don’t make a new one. Kills the life out of the other movies. I honestly say this, as a avid fan of Clooney, Pitt, Damon, Garcia, Soderbergh and the OCEAN movies; had it been any other movie with any other members, I sure would have shredded it to pieces. That says a lot about my two-faced fanboy integrity there.

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