No movie embodies the saying “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig” more perfectly than Ocean’s 8. Let me be clear: my derogatory remark is not aimed at the cast of Ocean’s 8. It’s aimed at the poor writing and directing they suffered through in order to make a forgettable sister sequel. No amount of star power will save Ocean’s 8 from the inevitable – becoming a permanent fixture in the $3 movie bin at Walmart.
Written and directed by Gary Ross, Ocean’s 8 starts off by bringing you down – Danny Ocean, the charismatic con man once played by George Clooney, is dead. His sister Debbie (Sandra Bullock), however, is very much alive and is released on parole after spending over 5 years in prison for a con gone wrong. Once freed, Debbie wastes no time returning to old habits. With the help of her close friend Lou (Cate Blanchett), Debbie assembles a team to help pull off a jewelry heist on the night of the Met Gala, the fashion industry’s Super Bowl. Similar to 2001’s Ocean’s 11, hijinks ensue and the long con isn’t revealed until the very end.
My problem with Ocean’s 8 stems from two things: 1) because the plot lacks substance and style, it relies too heavily on the cast itself and 2) it’s not funny. Of the 8 main characters, the movie only gives you quality face time with 2 of them (Sandra Bullock and Anne Hathaway). Consequently, the other 6 women are no more than caricatures. The movie also lacked a true villain. George Clooney faced off against Andy Garcia in Ocean’s 11. In this movie, Debbie’s dumb-looking ex-boyfriend is the closest thing we have to a villain, and I use that term very lightly here. Ultimately, I think that was the plot’s greatest downfall. Without a constant threat looming over the team, there’s no sense of urgency or fear. Moreover, the more I stew over how unfunny the movie was, the more I realize just how great Anne Hathaway was. Hands down she is the best part of the movie. Her character Daphne is self-centered, insecure, and lonely, which gives Hathaway plenty of room to exercise her comedic chops while offering the audience a well-deserved break from an otherwise stale movie.
If you are expecting Ocean’s 8 to possess the same coolness as Ocean’s 11, you will be disappointed. Admittedly, there is a scene or two that gives off the air of coolness, and Cate Blanchett’s David Bowie-inspired outfits are pretty cool. However, this movie isn’t cool. It’s just pretending to be cool, which might be why I found this movie to be so infuriating. It’s too busy conning us into thinking it’s something it’s not that it misses an opportunity to be something else— a decent movie worthy of its cast and your time.