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Saturday, Dec. 11, 2004
Virginia's News Leader
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MOVIE REVIEWS: Oceans Eleven

BY DANIEL NEMAN
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Dec 11, 2004

MOVIE REVIEW
OCEAN'S TWELVE

CAST: George Clooney, Brad Pitt

AT: Chester, Commonwealth, Short Pump, Southpark, Virginia Center, West Tower

FYI: Running time: 1:56. Rated PG-13 (language)

The only real reason to make a sequel is if everyone had such a good time making the first movie that they wanted to get together and do it again.

Such apparently is the case with "Ocean's Twelve," a sequel to a movie that was an absolute romp, the remake of "Ocean's Eleven." "Twelve" doesn't do "Eleven" one better, but it does it no worse than one worse.

The excuse is different (if they don't raise a huge amount of money fast, they will all be killed), but the idea is the same. Eleven guys get together to pull off a huge and complicated heist, during which unexpected complications must be overcome with quick thinking and overall professionalism.

For this movie, it's the same 11 guys as last time, which means two things: Everyone enjoyed himself so immensely that he was willing to commit to a second film, and the budget for the actors alone this time must be staggering.

Led by the indomitable Danny Ocean (George Clooney in one of those George Clooney roles he plays so well), the Gang of 11 has just two weeks to steal first a stock certificate and then a priceless Faberge MacGuffin. Standing in their way, aside from the usual security systems and alarms, are another thief (Vincent Cassel) and a dedicated police force.

Leading the police is a smart and tough-minded cop played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. She happens to be the former girlfriend of one of the members of the gang, played by Brad Pitt. So along with the fun that comes with a well-planned caper, we get a fox-and-hound romance played out between two impossibly attractive people on opposite sides of the law.

Julia Roberts is also back as Ocean's now-wife, Andy Garcia (the antagonist from the first movie) shows up a couple of times, Topher Grace makes a cameo of questionable necessity, Albert Finney pops in at an opportune time and, in a running gag, people keep telling Bruce Willis that they figured out the secret of "The Sixth Sense."

Obviously, everyone wants in on the fun. But the cast is huge to begin with, considering the 11 theoretical main characters, so some actors get left behind. Bernie Mac is barely in this one, Carl Reiner's role is equally small, and Scott Caan, Casey Affleck and Eddie Jemison all have little to do.

George Nolfi's script is often quite funny, though it sometimes pays more attention to trivialities than to the story. Some of this may be due to ad-libs, in-jokes and improvisations, a natural result of actors having too much fun, but they lead to the film's being a little less tight than a heist caper should be.

Of more concern is one ill-considered section late in the story, an expanded version of a single self-reflexive joke. Admittedly, the bit is pretty funny, but it calls so much attention to the fact that we are watching a movie that it diminishes the experience.

Director (and cameraman) Steven Soderbergh is as slick and professional as the characters he maneuvers through the story. He is one of the best in the business, and he moves with apparent ease between art-house fare and such commercial, popular films as this.

Making a movie is hard work, especially a movie as expansive as "Ocean's Twelve." But Soderbergh manages to make it seem as if he is not taking any part of this film seriously. No wonder everyone in it looks to be having such a good time.


Contact Daniel Neman at (804) 649-6408 or dneman@timesdispatch.com

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