(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
One Sentence Plot Summary: Danny Ocean and his ten cohorts pull off an audacious robbery and will make you nostalgic for Vegas…and a little dusty when Carl Reiner is standing at the Bellagio fountain.
Why It’s on the List: I love heist movies, and I’ve already discussed three of them previously. In some ways, this is the ultimate and final heist movie because it’s before you could really rely on CGI to compensate for any shortfalls. This film contains an incredible star-studded cast and aa director at the peak of his powers. I the best way to describe this movie is fun. It’s pure entertainment, and you don’t often get that from Soderbergh or many of the actors involved.
George Clooney is perfect as Danny Ocean. I cannot imagine anyone else being able to play a suave slimeball as well. Brad Pitt is smartly used as his number two, Rusty. Matt Damon was a young pup and still trying to find his way. He was a couple years after an Oscar victory but hadn’t gotten into the Bourne franchise yet. Julia Roberts is arguably the biggest movie star but ends up playing a relatively small part. She gets a lot more to do in the sequel (for worse). The rest of the cast is loaded with character actors, future stars, and two legends. Elliot Gould is probably best known for being Ross and Monica’s father on Friends, but he was a movie star in the 1970s. Then there’s Carl Reiner, who only just recently passed away. It’s sad to think two members of crew have passed (Bernie Mac passed in 2008), but it’s great that this movie showcases everyone so well.
You get everything out of this heist movie one could possibly want. There’s the set-up, accumulation of the crew, planning, and execution. George Clooney building up how ominous the robbing of three casinos simultaneously is a great bit of screenwriting because it retains the light tone of the rest of the movie. I’ve probably watched this movie a dozen times, and the execution of the final heist still somehow doesn’t come together in my head until the very end. It’s s tremendous bit of editing combined with a soaring score and exacerbated Andy Garcia.
Ocean’s Eleven is a delight and a tremendous piece of blockbuster entertainment with potentially the final generation of movie stars.
#problematic: Someone has been editing these for me, and he demanded I include this next bit, so here we go:
*This was added by the editor, and if you don’t include this so help me I will find a way to get back at you: The logistics of the robbery aside, the fact the vault in question holds money of three casinos which are not even close to one another makes no sense. The Bellagio (center of the Las Vegas Strip), Mirage (north side), and MGM Grand (south side and on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET) makes zero sense. Why wouldn’t they each have their own fancy vault if they’re so rich? More than $150-million in one place, and you’ve gotta travel half a mile to get money? This was the worst problematic of a Vegas movie until Hangover 3 completely botched the parachute scene. *rant over*
MVP: Stephen Soderbergh wanted to create a breezy fun film, and he did just that. I would love to know how much money he had made in residuals with how often this and the subsequent sequels have been shown on cable. The thing I love about Soderbergh as a director is he’s always willing to take chances. He’ll make something really mainstream like this but experiment with making a Cinemax television show and then go onto shoot an entire film on a phone. Soderbergh is someone who constantly remains relevant, and even though no other film of his will appear on the list, I respect him a ton for what he’s done for the craft. I think a movie that’s this star-studded could easily get lost, but the story is consistent and it never becomes about star fuckery.
Best Performance: Hard to pick just one here because this is so much of an ensemble. I think we’ve come to a point where Brad Pitt is just the best number two in the business. As a lead, he struggles. There is a ton of evidence that when put in the second position on the call sheet, he does his best work. The fact that he won an Academy Award for supporting actor is proof of this. There are other examples. Here he excels by facilitating the action and coming off like the real man in charge. It’s also legitimately impressive that he was eating in ever scene.
Danny: Saul, are you sure you’re ready to do this?
Saul: [feeling offended by Danny’s show of concern] If you ever ask me that question again Daniel, you will not wake up the following morning.
Danny: He’s ready.
RIP Carl Reiner.
Is there a sequel? There are two sequels and a reboot
How are they? Ocean’s Twelve is one of the most nasal gazy films I’ve ever seen. It’s self-referential and comes off as masturbatory. There are people who will try and convince you it’s actually good and a master work. Those people should not be taken seriously. Ocean’s Thirteen is fine. It’s a rehash of the original in a lot of ways, but it’s at least watchable.