Remember George Clooney's Vegas heist-meister Danny Ocean and his gang of well-dressed criminals? You won't miss them after meeting his sister's super-confident crew.
A spinoff of sorts from the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy, the glamtastic action comedy Ocean's 8 (★★★ out of four; rated PG-13; in theaters nationwide Friday) stars Sandra Bullock leading an outstanding cast as Debbie Ocean. The illegal goings-on move to New York, where the plot plods until the crew gets together and the movie unleashes its secret comedic weapon: Anne Hathaway.
Directed by Gary Ross with a consistent tone of jazzy cool, Ocean’s 8 releases Debbie on parole after a five-year prison stint in New Jersey, and it’s not long before she’s stealing anything she can get her hands on. (Rampant kleptomania is apparently genetic in the Ocean clan.) But Debbie didn't spend her time in the slammer dreaming of thieving hotel soaps and fur coats — no, she's been concocting an intricate, slightly crazy plan to rob the Met Gala.
The target is a $150 million Cartier necklace with six pounds of diamonds and its own security team. With the help of her old partner, Lou (Cate Blanchett), Debbie recruits a group of specialists all integral to the daring job: expert jeweler Amita (Mindy Kaling), streetwise pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina), ace fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson), super-cool hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna) and struggling Irish fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter). Rose’s gig is crafting the gala dress that will be worn by persnickety A-list actress Daphne Kluger (Hathaway), whose neck will host the high-end jewelry — though if all goes to plan, it’s not leaving with her.
When Debbie’s women are doing their thing, Ocean’s 8 crackles with an infectious excitement and is just as cool as George and the boys. It steals a few aspects (and some familiar faces) from the earlier films but avoids being derivative, and offers a tighter, more entertaining supporting cast. Awkwafina is just fun to watch, and Hathaway — totally playing a parody of herself — is an absolute delight as an uber-celebrity who's perhaps a bit cagier than anybody suspects.
Ocean’s 8 playfully enjoys showing off its feminine wiles, like when Constance gives Amita a dating-app lesson or pretty much anything Nine Ball does. The movie doesn’t make a big deal out of it, but these woman are clearly smarter than all the dudes around them, including Debbie’s shifty art-dealer ex (Richard Armitage) and a Columbo-lite insurance investigator (James Corden).
The nimble, banter-laden script (written by Ross and Olivia Milch) isn't above throwing some not-so-subtle shade: Needing to fill out their roster, Lou wonders if they should consider a “him,” but Debbie insists on a “her.”
“A him gets noticed. A her gets ignored. For once, we want to be ignored,” she quips.
Fashion mavens have lots to admire with exquisite costumes (it is the Met Gala, after all) and an Anna Wintour cameo. People-watchers can pick out various real-life celebrities who show up. And for everyone across the board, Bullock and Co. are a pack of devious treasures who can ransack our shindig anytime.