Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Review by Lauren Snyder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Well, here it is! The big follow-up movie by Steven "All Over the 2001 Oscars" Soderbergh! The big reunion of Soderbergh and Julia Roberts! The big all-star remake of the Rat Pack classic!
As with any mega-hyped project, it's so difficult to live up to said hype. (Notice I didn't say impossible; I think that Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone was hype-worthy.) With Ocean's Eleven, there's a struggle not only with it living up to the gold standard of the A-listers involved, but living up to the original, which fueled its fire by featuring larger-than-life personalities like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, etc. Of course, if you look to the original, you'll see that it's really not that great. It's been romanticized by people who confuse the vehicle with the stars who drove it. But on to the review...
Ocean's Eleven is the story of Daniel Ocean (George Clooney), just released after several years in a New Jersey prison for theft. He meets up with Dusty (Brad Pitt), an old friend and colleague. Danny has a plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos in one go, a job that requires them to get backing from Ruben Tischkoff (Elliott Gould) and to recruit a motley crew of felons. Of course, one of the reasons Danny is plotting this robbery is to ruin casino owner Harry Benedict (Andy Garcia), who is now dating Danny's ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts). But does Danny want the money, his ex-wife, or both?
This film features an average script with some awfully wooden dialogue, underdeveloped characters, and a soft ending. The only reason it was released at all is because Frank and Co. did it first, and this generation wants to be a part of that Apathetic Chic movement. For its credit, the plan of the heist is pretty cool. In fact, the heist and the star wattage make it much better than it has any right to be. I speak mainly of George Clooney, who has that old school movie star gravitas, like a Cary Grant for the 21st century. Brad Pitt is also satisfyingly solid as the cool and steady veteran. The other actors are all very capable, except for Julia Roberts. Am I the only one who doesn't really like her? The character of Tess is painted as this staggeringly beautiful, intriguing personage, someone without whom Danny Ocean can't live. I don't think that Roberts lives up to this, and I got the feeling from others in the audience that they were skeptical as well. To play this part you really need someone like Cameron Diaz, both gorgeous and dynamic enough to hold Ocean's interest (although Diaz herself is a bit young for the role).
Miss Julia just didn't cut it for me. Neither did the movie, on the whole. It was unsatisfying, as if the director was trying to accomplish too much and succeeded at nothing. For those of you who were looking for another Traffic, you'll have to wait a while longer.
For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Ocean's Eleven (2001)
Video Pick of the Week
Guide to Star Ratings