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 V.13 No.50 | December 9 - 15, 2004 

Film Review

Ocean's Twelve

Star-packed sequel gives larceny a good name

“That’s what I get for not buying the rental car insurance.”

Ocean's Twelve

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts

The original 1960 version of Ocean's Eleven isn't exactly considered a cinematic classic. It was really just an excuse for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and pals to hang out in Las Vegas, have a good time and make a few bucks in the process. The fun of the film's shoot was infectious, however, and the film is still a blast to watch.

When George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and pals decided to join forces and make a movie several years ago, they chose Ocean's Eleven as their inspiration. And it wasn't just the story Clooney and company were inspired by. They followed the same loose-limbed, have some giggles, shoot some film, make some dough approach. The 2001 remake of Ocean's Eleven was no cinematic classic either, but the sense of behind-the-scenes fun and camaraderie struck a chord with audiences and resulted in an international smash.

Now, all the boys and girls have gathered together for another onscreen romp. This time around, the excuse for a story is that nasty casino boss Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) has tracked down the members of Ocean's Eleven and wants every penny of the money that was stolen from him in the first movie ... plus interest ... in two weeks. Our eleven master thieves head to Europe in search of some $100 million in loot. There, they bump into two major chunks of trouble. The first is Rusty (Brad Pitt) Ryan's bitter ex-girlfriend (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who's now a bigwig detective with Europol. The second is a snobby sneakthief known as The Nightfox (Vincent Cassel, Brotherhood of the Wolf), who challenges Danny Ocean and his crew to the ultimate steal-off.

Ultimately, I'm not sure you could convince me the plot that unfolds from all of this makes the least damn bit of sense. The twists and turns are too random and preposterous to actually fit together well. But, then again, that's really not the point here. For better and for worse, Ocean's Eleven feels like it was improvised on the spot. Everyone involved looks like they're having the time of their lives. The best scenes are when the stars are simply left to their own devices and are allowed to riff on whatever silliness they feel like. (Clooney and Pitt alone must have given the script girl conniptions.) A handful of clever cameos add to the party atmosphere, and everyone is just itching to make fun of his or her celebrity. Julia Roberts, relegated to a slightly smaller role here, has a particularly fun time lampooning herself in high style. ( I won't spoil it, but it's as brilliant as it is completely silly.)

Admittedly, there are moments in Ocean's Twelve when the audience may feel left out of the loop. These boys and girls are off on their own lark, audiences be damned. Occasionally, the pace is a bit languid and the jokes a bit too “inside.” Still, with so many pretty faces and so-much good-natured goofiness on display, it's hard not to just sit back and enjoy this elaborate game of Hollywood dress-up.


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