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"Ocean's Eleven"

Directed by Steven Soderbergh.
Written by Ted Griffin.  Based on the 1960 film of the same name.
Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Andy Garcia. 
Release Year:  2001 
Review Date:  12/11/01 


This won't really be a review so much as a list of problems with this film.  So, just be aware that all I will be doing here is giving away plot points of the film and why I didn't like it.  Just wanted to warn you!!

As I have told many of you in the last three months, if this film wasn't Opening Weekend for me--given the pedigree of its stars and its director (two-time Oscar nominee LAST YEAR ALONE)--I was going to give it a Hard Vice.

I came into this film wanting to just relax and have fun, just soak it all in.  And, many of you told me to do just that in e-mails over the last couple of days, so I did.  Unfortunately, the film lulled enough places to make me rethink that and start looking at this film for what it could have been.

Hmm, where to begin...well, maybe I could start with the heist film format in general.  This has been a bad year for heist films.  "The Score" and "Heist" were both nothing to write home about.  "Ocean's Eleven" shares a similar problem for the previous two films, in that when it is not concentrating on the grand heist itself, you get bored.  This movie proves, more than any in recent memory, that loading your film with big-name actors doesn't mean shit!!  After seeing George Clooney and Brad Pitt show up, there were times when I thought they were on-screen JUST to be on-screen.  They didn't really seem to be doing anything except...well, look cool.  And, they are both the first ten minutes.  Then, just seeing Brad Pitt talk on a cell phone or put on a tie wore off on me.

I will grant you that for females, this film is a dream come true.  The sheer amount of handsome men is ridiculous.  Unfortunately, I am a guy.  And, a few random shots of Julia Roberts just isn't going to do it for me.  A), she isn't all that.  B), she isn't all that, and finally C), she isn't all that.  Do you think that out of the eleven "hardened" criminals that appear in this film, ANY OF THE MOTHERFUCKERS could be a woman?  If this is supposed to be an update from the 60's original film, then why aren't any of the criminals women?  They threw in two black guys, they even threw in a (naturally) non-English speaking Asian guy.  Because this is a heist film, his specialty wasn't kung fu, but instead, "guy that can bend unnaturally and jump backwards off of walls."  Oh, wait--he did know enough English to tell Clooney mid-film "Where the fuck you been?"  Ugh.

The irony of the star wattage in this film was that the most entertaining characters in "Ocean's Eleven" were the guys that weren't used to sell the film.  Don Cheadle was once again excellent, but since there are 15 people that require screen time, he got only three or four scenes.  Scott Caan and Casey Affleck--playing mismatched brothers from Provo--were funny, and Carl Reiner showed he's still got it in the few scenes that he was in.  And of course, Bernie Mac was great again.

But, for a film of such great undertaking, there are surprisingly few "movie magic" moments in this film.  It is never laugh-out-loud funny; rather, it is sometimes "amusing."  True to Steven Soderbergh's style, the film is shot with some handheld cameras, giving his films a more real, jittery feel to them.  It seems to feature average photography, nothing of grand scope, save for some cool helicopter shots of the Vegas hotels/casinos featured in the movie.  There are no great lines spoken by the characters, really.  It is just an ordinary film, and I was expecting more.

And, its ending...I can't remember being so disappointed!  (Well, I can, but I thought I would say it anyway.)  I pulled out my pistol and had it in my mouth as Roberts' character runs out of Andy Garcia's hotel and promises Clooney that she will wait for him.  No, no, no.  Piss-poor.  Shitrific.  Horrible!!

Of course, there are other little, why does Clooney ask Pitt at the end what he is doing driving a crappy car given he just made $13 million...when, I thought $163 million divided by 11 was $15 million, not $13 million???  Was there another person that I hadn't accounted for?

Man, I was hoping for more.  Maybe "Lord of the Rings" will bring it home for me!

Rating:  Hard Vice


Comments?  Drop me a line at


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09