Women can be criminals too! It’s the current year, after all.
BQB here with a review of “Ocean’s 8.”
As a knuckle dragging caveman/vile misogynist pig according to today’s standards of political correctness, I went into this movie thinking it would suck with the gale force wind of a thousand hoover vacuums.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against the idea of all female casts. I’m not against taking a role that is traditionally male and turning it female. While I do despise the idea of taking actual male characters and making them female (Jane Bond or Indiana Jane just seems patronizing to women and saying that they’ll never be complete unless they grow a dick), I realize there might be some wiggle room (i.e. female Ghostbusters might have been great if better writers had been involved) or here, that it is possible that infamous thief Danny Ocean might have had a sister with the same last name, capable of pulling off an intricately planned heist.
At any rate, I enjoyed it. Does that mean I’m losing my misogyny? I don’t know. I’d argue that I never had any, just that I don’t think its enough for women to show up to a traditionally male endeavor and proclaim they’ve taken it over because they have vagina power and not do more. Here, the women do more.
The film does follow George Clooney’s early 2000s remake of the film of the same name, originally starring Frank Sinatra. Debbie (Sandra Bullock), just as her brother years before, is fresh out of prison, promising authorities she’ll lay low and turn her life around, only to go straight into planning a magnificent act of thievery, here, the swiping of a $150 million necklace from the neck of a famed actress played by Anne Hathaway.
Cate Blanchett is Debbie’s #2, just as Brad Pitt’s Rusty helped Danny assemble his crew so many years ago. The thing I liked about this movie is we get to see two actresses, Cate and Helena Bonham Carter (who plays a down on her luck fashion designer) play themselves. Over the years, we’ve grown used to seeing this pair play fantasy characters (Blanchett as the elf Galadriel in “Lord of the Rings” or Carter as any one of the grungy Goth characters in Tim Burton films) that is interesting to see them play characters straight without all kinds of weird voices, makeup, costumes, and so on. For once, you get to see them, although they have to lose their respective Aussie and Brit accents and pose as Americans.
If Matt Damon as Linus was Clooney’s #3 in command, then that job goes to Sarah Paulson as the fence in charge of selling the hot jewels. She plays the role well, as a suburban mom who has been out of the game (at least on a direct level) for a long time and is reluctant to get back in.
Rounding out the cast is Awkwafina as a plucky pick-pocket and I gave props to anyone who gets their start on YouTube with funny vagina rap songs only to end up starring in an Ocean’s remake. Her humor is contained, her jokes fairly standard i.e. when you recruit a pickpocket, you’ll have to ask for your watch back. Still, this was big for her and perhaps her own film will be in the works someday.
Rihanna, the fabulous diva who should really have to share screen time with no one, is believable as a hacker. Her turn in “Battleship” is often cited as a weak performance though in her defense, that was a pretty weak movie that is, to this day, unwatchable and her presence is the least of the flick’s problems. Here, she gets quick, easy lines, often staring at a computer and saying witty things as the hacker magic happens.
And of course, Mindy Kaling of “The Office” fame gets her big screen time, here as a jeweler who can work wonders with hot stones under pressure. Alas, all of these women have to share the film, clipping their individual wings just enough for the ensemble cast to work.
At times, the plot fumbles and gaping plot holes are patched with rubber cement and silly putty. Giant, lingering questions about how the heist is pulled off are treated casually but in the film’s defense, the Clooney films did that as well. I recall one of the Clooney films in which the heist depended on Clooney’s girlfriend, played by Julia Roberts, tricking people into thinking she was Julia Roberts and, hell, if we were willing to give that franchise a nod and a wink then we can do so here.
One complaint I’ve always had about “women taking over traditionally male roles” is that perhaps men haven’t always been right about everything and maybe women were right all along. When women want to play crude, perverted partiers (i.e. last year’s “Rough Night”) or become MMA fighters (i.e. Ronda Rousey) I wonder if they ever realize that women who avoided becoming drunken lechers or sweaty fighters were in the right all along and the boorish men they yearn to copy were nothing to idolize.
Thus, as trendy as the Clooney Ocean’s films were, is a crook really something to aspire to? Maybe women should focus on the good roles that men traditionally played, like astronauts, scientists and business tycoons and, you know, forget about the men who do dreadful things.
While I won’t give it away, the film is at least self-aware enough to acknowledge that complaint with a joke, so it earned my applause.
I draw the line at turning male characters into women though. James Bond didn’t oppress women with his penis and if Hollywood feels the world could benefit from a series about a female MI6 agent, they can create a new one with a different name and back story any day, just as they can if they feel the world needs a female treasure hunter. Actually, they did that years ago with Lara Croft with no need to chop Indy’s dick off.
Original, never before seen female characters in comic-booky films are possible, if Buffy taught us anything.
As for roles that were male in the past but could be women without cutting a hypothetical male character’s dick off, it all depends on the writing. Ghostbusters aren’t required to have dicks, and good writing could have sold a dick-less ghostbuster crew.
Meanwhile, thieves can have vaginas (perhaps many of us jilted menfolk knew that all along) but as in any film, it must have good writing or at the very least, as happens here, gloss over writing problems with pizazz and style.