Knee-jerk review: "Ocean's Thirteen"

1. Is it Ocean's 13 or Ocean's Thirteen?
2. A lot of what happens in the movie just doesn't make a lot of logical sense. You just have to go with it. If the filmmakers say some chemical doo-dad that Matt Damon's character wears will make the Ellen Barkin character swoon with unquenchable lust, so be it. But it often goes beyond that. There's also a lot of plot points here that hinge on happenstance that simply could not have been predicted or planned for, not even by seasoned con men like this.
3. The movie's a lot of fun, but very long. We really didn't need the Mexican worker strike.
4. No matter how many times The Cheese Fry saw Brad Pitt and Matt Damon talk in the TV spots about how "the nose plays," it's still damn funny. And you know what? The nose does play.
5. Two very funny Oprah Winfrey gags.
6. With their silky smiles and perfectly-fitted designer wardrobe, George Clooner and Brad Pitt make it all seem so effortless. Bastards.
7. The cinematography - it's director Steven Soderbergh working as his own DP under the psuedonym Peter Andrews - is spectacular, all strange contrasting colors and lights. It's like looking at paintings.
8. Ellen Barkin's great, true, but we could have used a few more women.
9. The premise, you have to admit, is very clever: instead of stealing from a casino, the boys rig the games so that the house loses, thereby punishing the very tan bad guy Al Pacino.
10. The Don Cheadle as the Robby Knievel-style daredevil bit didn't work.
11. The mug shot morphing that happened in that same scene, however, did work. Hilarious.
12. In the end, this is a movie with charm and style to burn. The epitome of cool. And so the film's chief strength is also its chief weakness - it's all sizzle and no steak. These aren't characters so much as chess pieces to be moved here and there to wow us with the film's narrative gymnastics. The pleasure doesn't come from worrying if Danny Ocean and his ever expanding crew will succeed. They're so ridiculously unflappable that success is essentially a given. The only pleasure to be had instead comes from seeing how this mousetrap contraption - which consists of a great many moving parts (did we mention the diamond necklaces that also have to be stolen?) - will work together.

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