By: Felix Felicis (Four Beers) –
Imagine slipping into a gentle, soft, super fluffy coma. In that coma you’re moderately entertained and whelmed on a level usually only reserved for mediocre pancakes (I mean, you can’t really fuck up pancakes – or can you?- I mean IHOB(urgers) just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, just as Ocean’s 8 doesn’t quite have the same pizzazz that Ocean’s 11 did). Somehow Ocho managed to be both a derivative attempt at both the rebootquel and gender swap genres. And that may actually be an achievement considering how low the bar is for either. Though that might be just me as I consider both rebootquels and gender swaps lazy, regurgitated storytelling in general. Tell me a new story or rehash an old one with such charisma I don’t give a shit you couldn’t come up with anything new. But I’ve smuggled several wine coolers into this review via my esophagus so let’s get crackalackin’ on breaking this bish down.
Ocean’s 8 opens on a very familiar scene: an Ocean (Deborah, or Debbie as she prefers to be called) is yet again sitting in front of a parole board blinking big ‘ole eyes like Bambi souped up on meth, promising to live the “simple life” about as convincingly as Paris and Nicky did on their short-lived TV show by the same name. Of course they release her. Of course she indicates that’s a massive crock of shit before even leaving prison and OF COURSE she immeowdiately begins planning a caper it took her five years and change to perfect. Mild revenge, pounds and pounds of diamonds, and some lady bonding later, the credits roll on what may be the beginning of a gender-swapped, rebootquel franchise.
Anne Hathaway practically CHEWS through the scenery in Ocean’s 8 and it is gloooorious to watch. Playing herself but not herself but an inflated version of the stereotypical “Hollywood Starlet” is a tongue-in-cheek delight to behold. Hathaway stole every scene she was in with more gusto than anything else that got stolen in this flick did. Honestly, narcoleptic hamsters on Benadryl trying to smuggle popcorn kernels out of a movie theater would’ve been more thrilling to behold.
There were also a couple cameos bridging the two franchises together that were kind of fun to watch. You know, like how when someone reminds you of your kickass trip to Vegas while you’re stuck in line at the DMV for eight straight hours. Mild Spoiler: I don’t care how hard you Eye-Spy-Where’s-Waldo, you’re not gonna find a whiff of George Clooney in Ocho, but they drop anvil-sized hints he may appear in a (possible) sequel.
There was -1000% creativity given to the Ocean’s 8 narrative and if there’s anything lazier than counting on a built-in franchise fanbase and novelty of a gender-swapped cast to carry your film across the finish line, I don’t know what is. Let’s also dive into the deep end of Debbie’s motivation here. But don’t dive in too hard because you’re gonna crack your face open six inches underwater as the only ascribable impetus Sandra Bullock’s character has is to stick it to an ex-boyfriend she doesn’t really even seem to be that broken up about (more on that in Beer Four). Oh sure, he sent you to prison, but do you feel betrayed? Or do you just have a case of the injured pride-sies because you got caught. Methinks the lady doth mildly protesteth too much.
Everything in Ocean’s 8 is a shallow, semi-recreation of Ocean’s 11… Minus the exquisite tension, showmanship, and/or driving motivation. It’s not a bad movie, and I love the star-studded cast of ladies each on their own merits. But just because you throw eight different-yet-awesome things into a blender and hit it on high, doesn’t mean that Super Smoothie is gonna taste great, make sense, or even end up all in the same place. Dealer’s odds they started with Ocean’s 8 to give themselves room to grow the ensemble through sequels, but if you can’t even use the cast you have currently to their full effect, I’m not gonna care about 9, 10, 11, or 12. Whelmingly, considering that the budget for Ocho was about $71 million and it had a record-breaking (franchise) opening weekend with $41 million, a sequel seems likely… if not entirely deserved.
There’s not really an overt villain in Ocean’s 8 (Andy Garcia in Ocean’s 11 was *kisses fingertips* MWAH perfection) and that also takes away some of the oomph of a caper flick. I don’t want to root against the Met Museum, or subtle jabs at capitalism, I want to STICK IT TO THE SLICK, UNDERHANDED CASINO OWNER WHO STOLE YA GIRL, SON.
Everything in Ocean’s 8 felt like that part of a roller-coaster ride where your car is climbing to the top of the tracks and is just about to plunge into a thrilling descent… Only Ocho climbs and climbs and climbs and climbs and then levels off to a nice gentle finish. It’s an escalator. Ocean’s 8 is a seniors pilates class filled with gentle kicks and mild surprises. The pacing takes forever to get going and then rewards your (by this point) saintly patience with a moderately clever…ish finale reveal. You know there’s gonna be a heist-within-a-heist (this is an Ocean’s franchise flick, after all) but, by the time you get there, *you’re (*me, I mean meeeeeeeee) already just waiting for this to end. And that’s not a good look on a film.
Taken on its own merits, Ocean’s 8 is a mildly entertaining lady heist flick that is worth an afternoon matinee or eventual DVD streaming/rental. As a part of the Ocean’s franchise, it’s a moderately disappointing copy-and-paste plot with a gender-swapped distraction ruse. Look over here at the shiny diamond heist! Definitely don’t look too deeply at character arcs, motivation or depth! Spirit fingers! Spirit fingers!
What’s also fairly offensive, the more I think about it, is the forgotten storyline with Deb and Lou (callback to Beer Two here). It’s been acknowledged in external interviews that there had been a planned plotline involving a romantic past for Deb and Lou. There are SEVERAL moments in the film where there’s unrealized sexual tension and banter than ultimately skirts around an overt acknowledgement of this fact. It rides the line between queer demographic exploitation and just purely sloppy storytelling when this plotline is abruptly abandoned mid-film. Pick a lane and stick to it because, Ocean’s 8, you’re not doing anyone any favors by trying to drive in both before taking the hetero-normative bus.
Ocean’s 8 is cinematic marshmallow fluff. It lacks any kind of substance, but you can’t really hate marshmallow fluff. You don’t really love it that much though, either. Hawk Ripjaw nailed it in his Trailer Review this week. To quote my parents at any stage in my life (up to and including all seasonal holiday gatherings) “I’m not angry, I’m just… disappointed.”
Go see Solo instead.
Mother of Dragons + Chewbacca = pretty solid fun.
Ocean’s 8 (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: like the A-Team, whenever an element of the plan comes together.
Take a Sip: anytime a member of Team Lady Heist is introduced and/or gets recruited.
Take a Drink: every time something goes terribly wrong and/or someone almost gets caught.
Do a Shot: for every OG Ocean’s 11 cameo.
Shotgun Your Beer: for the big reveal and refrigerator any woman would envy.