Ocean's Eleven

2001, Movie, PG-13, 116 mins

Review

OCEAN'S ELEVEN
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A genial, personality-driven heist comedy, based on the 1960 rat-pack escapade, that wants nothing more than to entertain. Con man Danny Ocean (George Clooney), the sort of smooth operator who gets sprung from jail in a tuxedo, is fresh out of the joint and already setting up a new scam. And it's a doozy: He plans to rob the vault that houses hundreds of millions of dollars in cash for three glittering Las Vegas casinos — the Bellagio, the Mirage and the MGM Grand. They're all owned by a sleek and notoriously security-conscious thug named Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), who's dating a leggy beauty named Tess (Julia Roberts) who just happens to be Danny's ex-wife... or perhaps that isn't a coincidence. Danny quickly assembles a crew from the rogues' gallery of friends with whom he's not supposed to consort for the duration of his parole: Card sharp Ryan (Brad Pitt), pickpocket Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon), cockney explosives specialist Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle), crooked casino dealer Frank Catton (Bernie Mac), drivers and all-purpose chameleons Virgil and Turk Malloy (Casey Affleck, Scott Caan), surveillance geek Dell (Eddie Jemison) and veteran flimflam man Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner). Danny rounds out the group (hey — eleven's a round number if he says so) with money-man Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould), an old-time casino owner who has a personal bone to pick with Benedict, and Chinese acrobat Yen (Shaobo Qin), whose ability to bend himself in half is crucial to the plan's success. Though the plot is still dominated by the details of planning and executing the heist, screenwriter Ted Griffin tinkered extensively with the details. But like the original OCEAN'S ELEVEN — whose cult-classic status is entirely due to the combined appeal of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford — the film's main attraction is the easy banter between the stars, who appear to be having the time of their lives playing charming rapscallions. At the same time, it's also one of those rare movies in which it doesn't feel as though the cast's fun is being had at the viewer's expense. Steven Soderbergh is one of the few contemporary directors who really knows how to use movie stars: Not one of the mega-watt cast is asked to do anything except turn on that larger-than-life glow, and they respond by sparkling brilliantly. Inconsequential? Sure, like cotton candy: It doesn't do a thing for you, but it's wickedly sweet as it melts on your tongue. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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