It has taken me until December to find it but here it
is, Ladies and Gentlemen, the ``Feel Good'' film of the year! Forget
Frank Sinatra, the Rat Pack and the original Ocean's
Eleven. Think Paul Newman, Robert Redford and The
Sting with a little Mission
Impossible thrown in for good measure. In the new Ocean's
Eleven, the Newman and Redford roles are played by George Clooney
and Brad Pitt. They and nine of their friends (9+2=11) plan to scam
an evil casino owner (Andy Garcia) who has taken up with Clooney's wife
(Julia Roberts) and steal $150 million. Like The
Sting, where Newman, Redford et al. scam an evil Robert Shaw, in Ocean's
Eleven, the bad guys are good and the good guys are bad. Just
out of prison, Danny Ocean (Clooney) plans to break into the vault that
holds the take from three Las Vegas casinos owned by Garcia. Getting
into the vault and stealing the money is an impossible task.
So Clooney puts together an ``Impossible Mission'' force featuring a group
of seeming misfits including Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Carl Reiner
and Casey Affleck. After planning and rehearsing the scam to an extent
not seen since The Dirty Dozen,
Ocean's eleven try to pull it off. Unlike some other recent movies
like Spy Game where there
is never any uncertainty about the outcome, Ocean's Eleven is so
cleverly put together that we never know whether the plan is going to work
or even what the plan really is. Like The
Sting, Ocean's Eleven has lots of hard-to-guess plot twists.
I won't give any of it away but from beginning to end it's a wonderful
film. Finally, here is a Hollywood movie with a nice script, crisp
directing from Baton Rouge's own Steven Soderbergh and great chemistry
among the actors. One reason that it all works is that this film
was clearly a labor of love. Clooney and Soderbergh have formed a
production company and this is their first film. Soderbergh, who had two
films, Traffic and Erin
Brockovich, nominated for Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director
last year, is on a roll. He has already worked with Clooney (Out
of Sight), Roberts ( Erin
Brockovich) and Cheadle (Traffic
). For Ocean's Eleven, Soderbergh did all his own camera work.
The action takes place at three real casinos and even features a boxing
match with Lennox Lewis as a backdrop. The supporting cast are also
great. Matt Damon does a nice low-key job as the pickpocket.
Carl Reiner shows he still has the comic touch, and Don Cheadle is totally
whack, speaking is some kind of Australian-Jamaican-Cockney dialect.
But the real stars are Clooney and Pitt who are just oh so cool.
Roberts is cool too but she doesn't get to extend her acting range in this
small part which she took just for the fun of it. It's nice to see
the actors having fun on the screen. There's not much wasted film
here as the story starts slowly and builds twist by twist to a nice climax.
And I mean climax. As Claudia pointed out, take a look at the penultimate
scene of the movie with the fountains and see what you think. Anyway,
go see Ocean's Eleven. You'll feel good. Just sit back and enjoy