Senior Allison Zhang watched "Ocean's 8" on June 9. She said her favorite actresses in it were Helena Bonham Carter, who played a fashion designer named Rose, and Anne Hathaway, who played a famous actress named Daphne Kluger.

Snappy, witty ‘Ocean’s 8’ proves worthy remake of traditional franchise

(Photo used by permission of Warner Bros. under Creative Commons license)
Senior Allison Zhang watched “Ocean’s 8” on June 9. She said her favorite actresses in it were Helena Bonham Carter, who played a fashion designer named Rose, and Anne Hathaway, who played a famous actress named Daphne Kluger.

When I asked my friends about going to see “Ocean’s 8” together, the common response was, “Well, it probably won’t be any good. I mean, just look at the ‘Ghostbusters’ remake.”

To those friends – you know who you are – I say, “Sucks to be you because you missed out.”

I’ll admit that I’ve never seen the original “Ghostbusters” nor the remake (sue me), so I have nothing to compare “Ocean’s 8” to.

From what I’ve heard, however, the main issue with the nearly all-female “Ghostbusters” remake was the repeated emphasis on the fact that the main characters were women, with less focus on an actual, you know, plot.

But in “Ocean’s 8,” there’s only the occasional gender-based quip, and they aren’t shove-it-down-your-throat obnoxious. (For example, when asked why there weren’t any men on her team of thieves, Sandra Bullock’s character replied, “A him gets noticed; a her gets ignored. And for once, we’d like to be ignored.” Short but classy.)

Had I instead seen just the script, with the exception of a few lines here and there, I wouldn’t have been able to tell that the main cast was nearly all female. So kudos to “Ocean’s 8” for not going overboard on the gender jokes and for focusing on making a good film.

I’ve seen “Ocean’s 11” (the 2001 version), “Ocean’s 12” and “Ocean’s 13” in all their numerical glory, and I’m pretty well-versed in the franchise.

“Pretty well-versed” meaning that I’ve seen 11 and 13 at least three or four times each, not including the countless hours I’ve spent watching clips on YouTube.

What about 12, you ask? Well, the series’ middle child is … less than satisfactory. Case in point: Julia Roberts plays a character who’s playing Julia Roberts. Doesn’t that sound like such a good movie plot that definitely won’t be awkward or the slightest bit strange?

But I digress. “Ocean’s 8,” released exactly 11 years after “Ocean’s 13,” is the remake I’ve been waiting for. It’s snappy, witty and just outrageous enough to make it a true “Ocean’s” movie.

Nearly all the main characters are female, and they each put on acts ranging from Anne Hathaway’s “famous person pretending to be a famous person” to Rihanna’s “unflappable hacker chick” to Bullock’s “literally everyone in my family is a criminal, yet people still trust me somehow.”

The plot follows typical “Ocean’s” style: the viewer is shown bits and pieces of the plan and can more or less put together what’s going on. Then there’s a conveniently placed scene in which the rest of the strategy and outcome is revealed – the typical plot twist. Justice has been served, and everyone gets very, very rich.

Happy endings all around, I’d say.

In the movie, Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, who’s the sister of infamous conman Danny Ocean (the main character in 11 through 13). She walks out of prison with just $40 in her pocket and a plan to steal a $150 million necklace, a typical post-prison sort of activity.

A large portion of the film takes place at the Met Gala, an annual fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City.

The film was spot on in recreating the gala, from the themed exhibit (which was created with the help of the editors from “Vogue” who create each year’s actual exhibit) to the cameos of famous gala-attending celebrities, such as Anna Wintour, Kim Kardashian, Katie Holmes and Serena Williams.

The best parts of “Ocean’s 8,” however, were the throwbacks to earlier installments.

The inclusions of recurring characters like Reuben, the flamboyant, too-cool-for-you businessman, and Yen, an unnaturally flexible Chinese acrobat, presented obvious tie-ins to the previous films.

And then there were subtler references – such as the same music, parallel dialogue and matching opening scene – which only true “Ocean’s” aficionados would pick up on (or, if they had missed it, read about it later online).

“Ocean’s 8” doesn’t deliver if you’re looking for an extremely detailed, 100-percent-plausible narrative. The plot is stretched at points, making you think, “Really, Rihanna can hack into the Met security system just like that? And not one person from the museum’s entire security team noticed?”

But if you just take these scenes for what they are, you’ll find “Ocean’s 8” to be worth your while. It keeps with the “Ocean’s” style: slightly insane, slightly ridiculous and very entertaining.

—By Allison Zhang

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