Watered down 

EYE CANDY: Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and George Clooney heat up the big screen in "Ocean's 13."
  • EYE CANDY: Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and George Clooney heat up the big screen in "Ocean's 13."

I was more than a bit nervous — full of dread, more accurately — when a gaggle of giggly girls came tripping and bouncing their way into the “Ocean’s 13” matinee and plopped down right next to me. I sighed and braced myself for annoyance, even scouted a few seats over my shoulder where I could emigrate if the noise pollution got to be unbearable. But to my surprise, they all sat in dead silence, focused upon the screen so intently you’d have thought they were watching a recipe for fat-burning waffles. They behaved, in short, the way you’re supposed to behave at a movie, the way no teen-ager at the Rave does.

Such is the power of The Pitt.

The movie itself? Not bad, though not what you’d hope it to be, and easily the weakest of the series. The setup? Takes all of about five minutes, and feels like what it is, Our Excuse for the Caper. To wit:

Reuben (Elliott Gould) is taken in a casino development deal by crooked hotelier Willie Bank (Al Pacino). Reuben cracks under the strain and suffers massive heart failure. The only thing that can bring him back? Why, a reason to live, that’s what. And what better reason to live than watching your enemy destroyed by some Rube Goldberg-esque con scheme?

Director Steven Soderbergh understands perfectly the proper way to remake movies. If you’re going to do a remake, you don’t fart around with classics like “Planet of the Apes” or “Psycho,” you choose bad, semi-obscure movies (like, say, a goofy Rat Pack heist movie that was really one big excuse for Dean Martin to sing “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” fourteen times), and then you have a ball with the redecorating. The result was “Ocean’s 11,” twice the heist picture of the original and good enough to support a sequel that was, if thin on plot and propped up by cliche, satisfyingly full of double-crosses and plot twists, at least a couple of which you probably didn’t see coming.

This time out, though, even the twists and turns aren’t all that twisty and turny. The double-crosses? Not so much double-crossy. “Ocean’s 13” seems to try to coast on charm and yucks, and it happens to be both charming and funny enough to carry you through it, but you don’t get that same sense of spectacle and excitement you got from the first two. It’s just a bit too cute and fluffy and self-consciously hip not to have a good enough payoff at the end — and with movies like these, the ending is almost the only thing that matters. Soderbergh seems aware of this and tries to get away with stealing the ending from “Ocean’s 11” (the first ending, not the ill-advised second one), but of course that plays just how it sounds.

I suppose the fairest thing of all is to judge it according to kind and compare it to other movie thirds, a category of filmmaking that even managed to swallow whole the likes of Francis Ford Coppola. On that scale, rank this Way Better Than “The Godfather III.”

Matt Reed



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Matthew Reed

Readers also liked…

  • Gay diamonds

    Scenes from Rodeo in the Rock.
    • May 7, 2015
  • Not much to 'Love'

    In Judd Apatow's new Netflix original series.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in Movie Reviews

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Resurrection, reflection

    • http://hairtransplantncr.com/ hair transplant in delhi hair transplant ncr hair transplant cost hair transplant cost in…

    • on December 8, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation