Written by: Ted Griffin, based on the 1960 screenplay by Harry Brown & Charles Lederer, which was in turn based on a story by George Clayton Johnson & Jack Golden Russell
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts
- Running audio commentary by director Soderbergh and writer Griffin
- Running audio commentary by Garcia, Pitt and Damon
- HBO First Look: The Making of Ocean’s Eleven
- The Look of the Con — costume design featurette
- Theatrical trailers
- DVD-ROM: “In or Out? Challenge”
Released by: Warner Home Video
My Advice: Rent It.
[ad#longpost]Danny Ocean (Clooney) is a highly skilled confidence man. The only reason he got caught was because he was off his game. This was almost certainly due to the fact his wife, Tess (Roberts), had left him. Now that he’s out of the joint, he has a plan to pull an extensive and yes, ludicrous, job. It’s an idea to rob three casinos simultaneously. This will involve assembling a small army (hence the title), pulling some out of retirement, some out of custody, and some out of pretty much nowhere.
Soderbergh is a helluva fine director. He alternates between “his” films and more marketable outings. With The Limey you also get Out of Sight. With Traffic, you also get Erin Brockovich. And it’s all at least a fascinating study in cinema, if not eminently watchable.
Thus, also taking interesting choices, Soderbergh remade the Rat Pack heist flick. A tremendous departure from that original fest, this new version had pretty much a “got it made” ticket from the word jump. Long and long has passed since we last saw a boatload of A-list players all get in one project and have a blast. And although the project could have coasted on the laurels of its helmer and cast, it actually chose to be a lot of fun.
The cast all exude cool. The script is smart and manages to balance the characterization needs of thirteen major players. The shots are perfectly stylized. It’s fun, it’s a popcorn movie, and a gourmet brand to boot.
The DVD isn’t half bad, either. Front and center are the two commentary tracks. Soderbergh and Griffin spar on theirs, and it’s easy to see how a sharp script could have been (a) delivered and then (b) translated to the screen. Jokes and insults sporadically appear and are gone again before you really have a clue what was happening. And they manage to actually impart a little bit of information about the film as well. As for the Damon/Garcia/Pitt track, it’s fun. Granted, at times it turns into a lovefest for their fellow actors and especially Soderbergh, but they do manage to inform as well.
The behind-the-scenes featurette is your standard HBO First Look deal, although stylized to match the film. In that, it’s a touch more intersting than normal featurettes like it, but only a touch. More useful is “The Look of the Con,” which discusses what went into the wardrobe behind some of the main characters. Pitt’s character’s clothing fabric, the fact that Clooney always walks out of jail in a tux–these are the kinds of things that get pointed out. Those of us without a costume design background will just go, “Oh, I get it.” Because we don’t have the trained eye, you see.
As for anything else, the In Or Out? game on the DVD-ROM portion is moderately amusing–at least it has the sense to give you different games as you go along–but it can get old relatively quickly nonetheless. And isn’t it nice that the InterActual Player forces you to make it your standard DVD player? What a travesty.
Fans of Soderbergh or Clooney–or hell, any of the ensemble for that matter–would probably want to go ahead and own this thing. It’s a fun movie, and we get those so seldom anymore. The features don’t leap off the disc and grab you by the lapels, but it’s okay: the movie is smart enough to compensate. Normal joes will want to rent, but it’s at least worth checking out.