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OCEAN'S ELEVEN (2001) (***)

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This flick is the last of the major heist flicks, which included HEIST, SEXY BEAST and THE SCORE, which came out last year that I hadn't seen yet. It's more fun than THE SCORE, but not nearly as good as HEIST or SEXY BEAST.

The story follows Danny Ocean (George Clooney) who sets up a hit on three casinos almost a few seconds after he steps out of prison. Ocean's crew of 11 crooks is littered with quirky characters who swing for the fences with fun characterizations. Julia Roberts plays Ocean's ex-wife, Tess, who we find out is married to Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), the man who owns the casinos Ocean is planning to hit. The scene where Ocean meets his ex in the restaurant contains some of the best dialogue that I've heard in a long time. It reminded me of the cool lines in many of the 1930s screwball comedies and film noirs.

The plot twists and turns and keeps you guessing the whole way. It's not as awesome as HEIST, but comes in a close second. Director Steven Soderbergh (ERIN BROCKOVICH, TRAFFIC) brings a classy cool style. It's not done with flashy camera work, but with tone, dialogue and the overall look of the film. Having been based on a film starring the Rat Pack, one is reminded of the sophisticated suave of Frank Sinatra often during the course of the story.

Another great part of the film is the cast. Clooney, Roberts, Garcia, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac and Carl Reiner. In these days of superstars getting millions for a picture, an all-star cast like the one in this film is hard to put together. Clooney exudes cool. Pitt as Rusty Ryan is great as Ocean's trusted right hand man, who questions the job when he finds out who the mark is. Damon is also notable as the crook, who pushes to be more involved in the job. Thank God that Soderbergh had the pull to pull off this cast because it adds to the over-all coolness of the entire flick.

Great dialogue, good rapport between the actors and a thrilling plot make this film very fun. The actors seem like they're having a good time, so we have a good time. This is light entertainment compared to Soderbergh's other work, but he must be commended for pulling off such an intricate tale so effortlessly.

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
Creator of Rick's Flicks Picks