It turns out Danny Ocean had a family. This weekend we met his sister, Debbie, who in Ocean’s 8 led an all-female team in a jewel heist during the Met Gala (which, by the way, is pronounced “gah-lah”). After seeing the movie, the Ringer staff gathered to talk Rihanna, heist execution, and missing Steven Soderbergh.
1. What is your tweet-length review of Ocean’s 8?
Sean Fennessey: All dressed up with nowhere to go.
Shaker Samman: Same old Soderberghesque, ’70s-style cuts, same old star power, a brand new gang, and juuuuust enough Rihanna to make you question why she doesn’t pick up acting full-time.
Andrew Gruttadaro: Ocean’s 8 is to Ocean’s Eleven what The Force Awakens was to A New Hope.
Alyssa Bereznak: A surprisingly tame movie for such a high sequin-to-character ratio.
Donnie Kwak: High jinks? More like mid jinks, amirite?
Amanda Dobbins: I, too, wish it had been directed by Steven Soderbergh—but I had a lovely time.
Kate Halliwell: Harold, they’re lesbians.
2. What was the best moment of the movie?
Kwak: The fact that Desiigner got as much screen time as Olivia Munn.
Bereznak: I really enjoyed when Awkwafina asked Sandra Bullock for a MetroCard. Even heist employees need basic benefits.
Gruttadaro: I really don’t wanna sound like such a stan for the original trilogy, but I pumped my fist when Yen showed up.
Halliwell: The heist itself was a blast, but the Awkwafina-Debbie interaction in the bathroom was hilarious. “He’s hot.” Girl, we know.
Samman: It’s tempting to say the crew-building montage, or the heist itself, but I knew I was in for a fun two hours when Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) marauded around Manhattan in the movie’s opening moments, lifting perfume, a fur coat, a suitcase, and a hotel room for good measure. And all after a subtle callback to her brother’s “the house always wins” speech.
Fennessey: Every time Anne Hathaway appeared, suturing her image back together from the discarded heirlooms of failed, frivolous divas.
Dobbins: My favorite thing was “watching a movie about a Met Gala heist starring eight women I like,” but in terms of specifics: the fashion in fashion-related movies (and especially fashion movies that are expected to make money) is usually quite terrible. Everyone in this movie looked actually stylish, in their own way, and the Gala dresses were literally all better than the real Met Gala clothes from this year. I also felt that Gigi Hadid did a great job with her cameo.
3. What was your least favorite part of the film?
Halliwell: This movie tries to shame Sarah Paulson’s character for saying “Met Gay-la,” but then it expects us to believe Daphne Kluger did her own hair and makeup for the event? Please.
Dobbins: Besides the strange lack of energy from Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, two legends who deserved better than this? I hated the top-40 soundtrack. Why does every “female-driven” studio movie have to feature garbage, hastily written pop songs that make me feel like I’m at a mall?
Fennessey: I can’t imagine a bigger waste of Rihanna than “she types a lot.” That’s not a character, it’s a qualification on a job application. In her big moment, she dresses up like a janitor and empties a trash can. C’mon.
Bereznak: When Daphne Kluger walks into the heist headquarters and reveals she was in on the job. That whole scene felt slapped on and highly unlikely. As much as I enjoyed Anne Hathaway’s character, there’s no way a rich and famous celebrity would risk going to jail for the sake of forging “close female friendships.” And actually saying that out loud was tragically on the nose.
Kwak: Not to get too woke on you, but two posh white ladies daring to venture into different ethnic neighborhoods (Queens, stand up) to hire what was essentially “the help” felt a little … othering.
Samman: When Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould) appeared at the beginning of the film to greet Debbie at Danny’s grave. I understand the desire to anchor this film in the Ocean’s universe, but the cameo felt shoehorned into a movie that otherwise flowed nicely. Honorable mention goes to Lou (Cate Blanchett) and her poor Rusty Ryan imitation. And James Corden was fine.
Gruttadaro: During the gala I started thinking: If Rihanna is Nine Ball, then does Ocean’s 8 take place in a world without a Rihanna? And that made me sad. On the other hand, though, Ocean’s Twelve took place in a world where Tess Ocean and Julia Roberts were two different people, so maybe the world of Ocean’s 8 is lucky enough to have two Rihannas. And that made me happy. Anyway, I got pretty distracted.
4. Who was the movie’s MVP?
Dobbins: Listen, it’s Anne Hathaway. End of conversation.
Gruttadaro: Let’s say that games 1 and 2 belonged to Awkwafina and games 3 and 4 to Anne Hathaway.
Fennessey: Sarah Paulson, who is low-key one of the most visible, successful, steadily working actresses in Hollywood in the past 10 years. The movie I want to see is the origins between her character and Sandra Bullock’s that are not-so-subtly alluded to.
Kwak: Anne Hathaway, Awkwafina, Rihanna, James Corden—in that order.
Bereznak: Cate Blanchett gets honorable mention for pulling off an emerald three-piece velvet suit. I would’ve watched a separate hour-long film of B-roll of just her doing glamorous stuff in that suit. But Anne Hathaway playing what I imagine was just a slightly exaggerated version of herself as a young actress (with a dash of Taylor Swift) was by far the most satisfying role to watch.
Samman: Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) was the picture-perfect airhead right up until she became the picture-perfect accomplice. She was the Kevin Durant to Sandra Bullock’s Steph Curry: Better in nearly every way, and more than happy to join a successful franchise to put her back in the center of the spotlight.
Halliwell: Everyone knows it was Anne Hathaway, so I’ll take this moment to point out that James Corden was a delight in the final stretch. He’s fun! Don’t hate me!
5. Tag yourself as one of the members of the team, and explain your choice.
Dobbins: Sarah Paulson. SEND ME TO THE VOGUE OFFICES. I AM READY TO COMPETE.
Gruttadaro: I am Rose Weil, the frazzled one who’s massively in debt.
Bereznak: I’m Tammy, because my aesthetic tends toward Park Slope mom, I order way too much stuff from Amazon, and I’m pretty sure I could get really into 3D printing if I had the resources. P.S. Did she open an Amazon competitor with her heist money? I’m still trying to figure that out.
Halliwell: I’m Debbie, because I too have lifelong, unresolved feelings for Cate Blanchett.
Fennessey: I’ll say Lou, if only because she dresses as if Keith Richards had discovered Phoebe Philo.
Kwak: I gotta be the Asian one, right?
Samman: Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), because I’m riddled with anxiety, often sweaty, and as anyone who went to Port Huron Northern High School in 2013 can attest, a subpar actor.
6. Grade the heist.
Dobbins: B—there are a lot of plot holes, but Cate Blanchett operating a toy submarine in a museum moat is worth five extra credits.
Halliwell: A-minus for execution, A-plus for serving straight Looks.
Samman: B-plus. The execution of the Toussaint heist was exciting, and there was a moment somewhere between the security guard’s appearance in the kitchen and the discovery of the knockoff in the pool when I could feel my heart beat in my neck. But the “we didn’t actually steal the thing you thought we stole” move has been done before, and with a more impressive laser scene. Still, it was meticulously planned and flawlessly executed.
Kwak: I’m giving it a solid D. The grand scheme was a little food poisoning and a bathroom swipe? That’s the Old Navy of heist plans.
Gruttadaro: In terms of execution, you gotta give it an A; they really pulled that off with almost zero complications. In terms of a sequence that’s part of a movie, I’ll give it a B-minus, because it was really odd to me that there was almost no conflict.
Fennessey: It did make me realize that the heists are never in doubt in the Ocean’s films.
Bereznak: C-plus. I say this because it all felt very tidy. The thrill of the con was frequently lost to props like computers and generic-brand Google Glasses. And the few wrenches thrown into their plan (i.e. the magnet clasp) seemed obligatory and, in the moment, completely surmountable. Not to mention, the end reveal that Debbie had planned a bigger heist by exploiting the drama of the original heist felt like a weird afternote. What’s the point of flashing back to a bonus heist scene when you know they already pulled off the job? Just to watch Sandra Bullock speak comical German? It seemed so inevitable that they would succeed, that there was very little drama to the whole thing.
Also, it’s not that easy to randomly get a job at Vogue; there are lots of rich people’s children to compete with.
7. Where does Ocean’s 8 fall in a ranking of the Ocean’s movies?
Fennessey: Last. Not close.
Samman: Safely into third, behind Ocean’s Eleven and Thirteen, but just ahead of Twelve. The plot was intricate, the set pieces were grand, and the heist was believable. But it wasn’t as thrilling as the modern original, and on the whole was slightly less enjoyable that the victory lap in Ocean’s Thirteen.
Gruttadaro: I’ll put it just above Ocean’s Thirteen, which is last for me, but I reserve the right to change my mind.
Bereznak: I regret to say that it wins third-best in the franchise, just above Ocean’s Thirteen. I really wanted to like it more than I did!
Kwak: Way at the bottom. I wish Awkwafina and Rihanna were in the other ones.
Dobbins: Ocean’s 8 is the nice cousin who you like and look forward to seeing at holidays. (You are Ocean’s Eleven in this context, or Ocean’s Twelve if you’re feeling zippy.)
8. Is Danny Ocean really dead?
Samman: God, I hope so. Three was a party, four is a crowd. I love what the Ocean’s Extended Universe has given me, but I’m not sure I want to see a fifth movie.
Dobbins: Hard no.
Bereznak: For the sake of avoiding some kind of crossover sequel, I really hope so.
Halliwell: No way. They named this one Ocean’s 8 so that there can be an Ocean’s 9 and an Ocean’s 10. I like to think he’ll make an appearance in the next one, and then Ocean’s 10 will be like the Infinity War of the Ocean’s movies, with the men and women coming together for a megaheist.
Fennessey: I genuinely thought Clooney would pop out from behind the stone memorial at the end of the movie. Then I remembered he’s in Lake Como with Amal and has better things to do.
Kwak: Nope. He’ll be back.
Gruttadaro: Not a chance. He’s growing a goatee in Europe somewhere and selling tequila companies for billions of dollars—just like George Clooney.