Oceans 13: A breezy summer caper that oozes Hollywood charm

Published 5:28 pm Thursday, June 7, 2007

“Oceans 13”

Warner Brothers Films

Directed by Steven Soderberg

Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia, Al Pacino, Bernie Mac, Ellen Barkin, Elliott Gould, Carl Reiner and Casey Affleck

Rated PG-13

3 Stars

I had the opportunity a few weeks back to re-watch the original “Oceans Eleven,” and was thrilled to find that while cinematic styles have certainly changed since 1960, Frank Sinatra’s big screen charisma still holds up under scrutiny. His movies may not have been great works of art, but they were always a lot of fun to watch.

I bring it up because “Oceans Thirteen” breezes by with much of the same effortless charm that made Old Blue Eyes into such a huge star. This second-sequel to the Sinatra original is another gentleman’s crime caper flick where the robbery isn’t nearly as important as making sure that the movie star cast of rogues looks good. Under the assured direction of Steven Soderberg, the film succeeds marvelously. If you’re somebody who enjoys Hollywood glamour turned up full, this is an embarrassment of riches as A-List movie stars saunter through the film in elegant suits and a rapscallion wink.

The plot finds the gang reuniting to help their long time friend, Reuben (Elliott Gould) who has been hospitalized after being swindled by the hotel impresario, Willie Bank (Al Pacino). This time the gang’s out for revenge, not money, so they rig Willie’s casino to have a very bad night. Perhaps more importantly, they conspire to make life miserable for the poor schlep assigned to review Willie’s hotel, knowing that a bad review will cut the man to the heart.

Money does become a bit of a problem as our gang decides that the best way to beat the casino’s security system is to fake an earthquake, which can naturally be best accomplished by renting the giant drilling machine that excavated the giant tunnel that runs between England and France. Man! When these guys scheme, they scheme big!

Obviously the plot has some rather outlandish elements, but that’s all part of the fun. A few of the subplots and supporting characters do get lost in the shuffle, but I suppose that’s to be expected in a film with such a massive cast. Credit Soderberg for not getting bogged down by the multiple stories.

And credit George Clooney, Ellen Barkin, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Al Pacino and Andy Garcia for turning up the star wattage and making this into a breezy good time at the movies. Ultimately “Oceans Thirteen” is very similar to “Oceans Eleven” inasmuch as it relies more on movie stars than a great story. It’s summer, and I’m thrilled with breezy Hollywood popcorn flicks. This one makes for a great night at the movies.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News.” Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@kavutv.com.

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