Ocean's 13 is coming to theaters this week and I'm already wishing this film was never made. It's not the actual film I'm wishing didn't exist. Despite the abysmal failure of Ocean's 12, it's very probable that, considering the potential of Stephen Sodebergh and the strength of Ocean's 11, this film will be good and I'm looking forward to seeing it.
But the question is whether it's worth having to see these self-indulgent fests of self-praise that occurs when Matt Damon, George Clooney, and Brad Pitt all over the press circuit this week? Now, don't get me wrong. I have no problem with Matt Damon and while Brad Pitt can tend to get a little overly metaphysical/spiritual/philosophical when asked simple interview questions, he's OK with me as well. If George Clooney is far off in Africa or campaigning for his dad, I'm OK with him too. My problem isn't really with George Clooney as much as it is how his ability to make every (male and female) Hollywood reporter fall in love with him results in an over coverage of him with hard-hitting stories like "George Clooney: a great and selfless guy or the greatest, most handsomest, most selfless guy there is?." By selfless, do you mean "talks about himself less"? Because, I haven't seen much evidence of that. Also, did you omit actor with range in there? Well, that's cause he doesn't have much of it. I do think he deserved the Oscar for Syrianna (and some people don't), but that's about as far as his range stretches. "Oh, let's not bash George Clooney," you say, "He's doing great stuff for Darfur." Well, the George Clooney publicity machine is not doing it' s job very well because I challenge you all: How much do you know about Darfur because of George Clooney? The articles that have come out with regard to George Clooney are along the lines of "Clooney: Great guy because he went to Darfur" rather than "Here's what's going on in Darfur"
So as I was saying: Matt Damon by himself = Good, Brad Pitt by himself = Mostly good, George Clooney = Mildly Tolerable. However, when you get the three in the same room, it's a whole different monster. They start congratulating each other on winning People Magazine's sexiest man award, fooling around with reporters and giving humorous answers (except when the questions are about politics in which case, George never misses the opportunity to promote his cause*), and talking about how great each other are. Add Julia Roberts and see things get worse. so it might be a blessing in disguise that she's absent from this one.
These guys were so distracted by how much fun they were having on the set of Ocean's 12 that they forgot to double-check at the end of the film if they had made a coherent plot (Stephen Sodebergh has been guilty of this before: see Full Frontal). I remember on three separate (Letterman, Inside the Actor's Studio and Good Morning America) occasions, Matt Damon had felt a need to remind us in interviews that while he and the gang were having fun in Ocean's 12, that they were still professionals and were going to deliver us a professional product. That should have been our first clue as to how bad Ocean's 12 would be. When he was promoting The Legend of Bagger Vance, he wasn't bragging about how professional he and Will Smith were able to maintain their work. That's sort of implied.
Ocean's 11 was notable in 2001 for the fact that all these A-list selflessly took pay cuts so that the film could support such a large ensemble. It doesn't look like their egos took a pay cut, unfortunately. These guys have so much fun with each other that I think they forget there are other people in the cast. I seriously wonder if Brad Pitt could even name the other 11 members of his own cast? Don Cheadle pops up occasionally so at best, we should just call this film Ocean's 4 judging by the press releases. I never see Shaobo Qin, Eddie Jemison, Scott Caan, or Casey Affleck involved in any of the press interviews. Poor Casey has the unfortunate distinction of being Ben Affleck's brother and on top of that he doesn't even get any recognition for his own film.
Lastly, what about Elliot Gould and Carl Reiner? Carl Reiner is a comedic legend and Elliot Gould was one of the best actors in the '70s through a string of Rob Altman films. You would think they might have gotten some recognition as well.
*I don't have anything against Clooney's politics and agree with his viewpoints. In my opinion, the political views expressed in his pictures are that if nothing else, "we should be open and be allowed to criticize our government." At the same time, he babbles on non-stop about his politics to the point where it bores me to death and doesn't seem to have an off-switch. I felt it was slightly insensitive to use his Golden Globe acceptance speech to deliver a Jack Abramoff as if he was filling int for Jay Leno on the Tonight Show.
I'm slightly less upset over this matter, when I learned that Carl Reiner was on Late Night with Craig Furgeson tonight. In the film, he admits that Ocean's 12 wasn't good but Ocean's 13 is well-written and greatly enhanced by Al Pacino. We will wait and see. Reiner was also shilling out for the greatness of Cheadle, Clooney, and Pitt. Well, Carl, don't sell yourself short, you're a great actor yourself.