Ocean’s Thirteen
What makes you think I’m going to yell?

Theatrical Release Date: 06/08/2007
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Al Pacino, Don Cheadle, Elliott Gould, Eddie Jemison, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Shaobo Qin, Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, Ellen Barkin, Eddie Izzard

The BFF exhibition that is the Ocean’s franchise is back, reuniting cinematic moguls Clooney, Pitt and Damon along with the rest of the gang for another round of casino heist hijinks in “Ocean’s Thirteen”.

I enjoyed the first film, especially watching Brad Pitt teach young Hollywood actors how to play poker. However, the second film ranks somewhere in the bottom ten films of this decade for me.

Director Steven Soderbergh, who has helmed all three projects, got way too cute in “Ocean’s Twelve” and, during his repeated zoom shots on the key cast members, almost had me heaving in the movie aisles. It didn’t help that the rest of the film was boring and aimless. None of the fun that was present in the actors during the first film followed them over to Europe.

Back stateside for another run at a Las Vegas casino, Soderbergh and the cast have regained their sense of whimsy and I’m probably more shocked than anyone at how good this film turned out.

The basic premise is that Al Pacino is a gazillionaire opening a new casino on the strip and has cut Elliot Gould’s character out of the picture. So it’s up to Clooney and Pitt to rally the troops one more time for a little revenge.

While I can complain about the amount of set-up that goes into this film, what was nice to see is the characters playing around with one another – actually having fun on screen (what a concept!).

The wonderful comic bits between Scott Caan and Casey Affleck are back, with some of their exploits even taking them south of the border, allowing Affleck to flex his comedic chops via the Spanish language.

Don Cheadle’s involvement is again fun to watch, especially when he gets a chance to monopolize a conversation with Pacino, and a very welcome addition is a supporting role for Eddie Izzard, who would have fit right into this group from the beginning.

Gone is Julia Roberts (no big complaint here) and enter Ellen Barkin, as Pacino’s second in command at the new casino. Barkin has been a little hit and miss for me over the years but this role really suited her and her interplay with Damon is hilarious.

Speaking of Pacino, I was very worried he’d fall into the charismatically challenged trap of Andy Garcia (who just managed to escape boring me in this installment). However, Big Al’s trademark bravado lended itself well to the role and it was easy to root for the Ocean’s crew to prevail.

I’m not sure if they really will call it quits after this one and if you had asked me whether this franchise should be shelved six months ago, my answer would have been an unmitigated “OH, HELL YEAH”.

Now I’m in a bit of a quandary, wondering if they could continue this regained sense of fun, or if it would just be better to end on a high note.

Either way, if you liked the first film, you’re going to like this one just as much, if not more. I’m giving “Ocean’s Thirteen” a strong 3 out of 5 and it’s nice to see at least one of the summer blockbusters fulfill most of its hype and be entertaining.

Anyone else in for a road trip to Nevada?