Ocean's 8

At Cinemark


Grade: B

Women are breaking glass ceilings so often now, that the shattering sound can be heard round the world. All-boys clubs are disappearing.

Even the Virginia Military Institute has now welcomed women cadets -- that decision was reached on a narrow 9-8 vote by the governing board, and the sisters are now marching and saluting alongside their brothers.

If women can now be law-abiding soldiers, then they also ought to be able to be lawbreakers, too, right?

“Ocean’s 8” reminds us that ladies, too, can be thieves -- and good ones. Personally, I’m not sure that was a gender battle worth winning, but what the hey.

“Anything you can do, I can do better,” seems to be the gender battle cry of this millennium.

So, ladies, put on your fancy clothes and let’s crash the Met gala and steal some diamonds.

Sandra Bullock channels her inner George Clooney to pull off a smooth jewel heist in “Ocean’s 8,” a slick, if unoriginal, relaunching of an Ocean voyage. She plays Debbie Ocean, sister of Danny Ocean, architect of the classy heist. Contrite Debbie wins parole -- and then, with a smirk and a wink, she begins dreaming of diamonds.

Her team is an all-female collection of talent that includes a best friend, a hacker, a fashion designer, a fence and a pickpocket. A supermodel will crash the party to complete the femme gang.

After meticulous planning, Bullock brings her crew together for a pep talk, like the one from the Olympic ice hockey movie “Miracle,” only different.

"Don't do this for me. Don't do this for you," says Debbie Ocean. “Somewhere out there is an 8-year-old girl lying in bed, dreaming of being a criminal. Let’s do this for her.”

If the entire film were as inspired and laugh-out-loud funny as that moment, “Ocean’s 8” would have hit the jackpot. Unfortunately, the tale plays it a little too safe -- content to follow the template of the male-dominated series, rather than to hack a new path through the wilderness.

The decision not to hire a female writer and director is a curious one, given the gender statement being made. Instead, the man who gave us “Hunger Games” got the job. That was another go-girl movie, housed within a very male-centric story of mortal combat to the death.

Let’s imagine women at the helm of “Ocean’s 8.” What would a heist movie employing an ethic of care be like?

Well, for starters, it would emphasize relationships more than victory, and would be deeply concerned about possible harm to people from any so-called “victimless” crime.

A mama crook might steal a loaf of bread to feed a family, but would likely not kill for fun. That’s the kind of reworking of the heist drama that I hoped for.

But what we get is a retooling of the same old heist tale (which started in 1960 with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and the Rat Pack), with females playing the masculine characters.

That’s not to say that the cast isn’t good -- they are wonderful actresses. Now and again, each of them sizzles and makes us smile.

No film featuring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchet, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna and Anne Hathaway is going to be boring. And the supporting players are just as good.

The film includes cameos by Marlo Thomas, Dakota Fanning, Katie Holmes, Serena Williams, Heidi Klum, Elizabeth Ashley, James Corden and “Vogue” editor Anna Wintour.

In other words, with flashy camera work and a parade of stars, “Ocean’s 8” hopes that dazzling us will be enough.

The production values are slick -- every penny of the $70 million budget is visible on the screen in this stylish and lavish caper movie.

The biggest disappointment of all is that “Ocean’s 8” just isn’t subversive enough. It’s too polite, too predictable and too proper.

All that said, in fairness, as summer entertainment, the formula works fairly well, until we realize, after we leave, that the meal had few calories -- and that we are hungry again quite soon.

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