5 Ways to Prep: Ocean's 8
By George Rose
June 7, 2018
This weekend we have Ocean’s 8, the female-filled reboot of the Ocean’s 11 franchise. Though there was a gal or two present in Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13, it was predominantly a boys club. Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and a slew of others, the trilogy of comedic capers came at a time when the celebrity of those males was at their highest and the first film rode that fame to great fortune. All three consistently opened between $36 to $39 million and ended between $117 million to $183 million. Though they started about the same, varying quality led them to different outcomes. Considering that April and May were dominated by male-driven action films and that the rest of June is for kids and dino-lovers, I’d say the ladies of Ocean’s 8 have a good chance at taking a decent piece of the pie.
With #TimesUp and #MeToo having settled down a bit, we’re ready for the men of the world stop sexually harassing women and start taking them to movies. With so many A-list actresses headlining the film, there’s something for everyone and plenty of reasons to get out of the house and support Ocean’s 8. I, for one, need no reason other than seeing Sandra Bullock’s name on a poster to drive myself to the nearest theater. Others are a bit more skeptical of Hollywood’s latest offerings and need more. For those needing an extra push to support the working woman, here are a few ways you can prep for Ocean’s 8.
#1) OCEAN’S 11 (2001; $38 million opening, $183 million total)
Naturally this recommendation makes the most sense as it is the first in the Ocean’s trilogy, much like Ocean’s 8 hopes to be the first of the female-led spin-offs. Aside from all the surprise twists that naturally come with a movie about a heist, the story is pretty simple; Danny Ocean (George Clooney) gets out of jail after being arrested for stealing stuff and finds out his former wife is knocking boots with a casino tycoon, so he enlists a crew of eleven to steal about $160 million from the guy. What took the movie to the next level was the incredible direction of Steven Soderbergh and an all-star cast of stellar talent (Clooney, Pitt, Damon, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Andy Garcia). Oh yeah, and one woman. The thing is, if you’re going to load a movie up with a bunch of dudes and only one woman, it better be THE woman in Hollywood. Ocean’s 11 didn’t disappoint and gave us Julia Roberts. Enough said.
11 was amazing while 12 and 13 are certainly watchable. In the new era of updating older classics with modern twists, it seems understandable that we would get a female-driven update. The problem with this theory is, two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because men had a franchise about thievery doesn’t mean women should. In the world of separate but equal, yes they should. In a world of true equality the real modern update would be a group of men and women working together. I really do love the idea that the new main character is a woman and not a man, and that this woman - Debbie Ocean, played by Sandy B - is Danny’s sister. All that is a great launching pad for the reboot. There are plenty of times and places to make a cast of all women, like Girls Trip. That was a movie about a trip for women. You can’t argue a girl’s trip or a bachelorette party is about a group of only women. But stealing? It seems odd that a group of law breaking, scumbags would not include at least one white man. They’re the worst!
The real irony in Ocean’s 8 is not that it is entirely female - although I’m pretty sure throwing in even one gay man into that mix would have been a modern way to include a man in a girls club - is that the group leans heavily white. If you’re going to pull the progressive card and make a movie about eight women robbing the Met Gala, maybe five of the eight shouldn’t be white. The other three include a black woman (Rihanna), an Indian woman (Mindy Kaling) and an Asian woman (Awkwafina). I’m sorry, was Penelope Cruz busy that month? Jennifer Lopez? Were all Latinas busy? Couldn’t they double-down on one of the existing non-white races and maybe call Viola Davis? Priyanka Chopra? Lucy Liu? For all the reasons I’m excited about Ocean’s 8, there are plenty to be concerned about. It seems like quite a gamble to make a girls heist movie just because the boys did, and then make it just as white as the boys did. I guess you can’t fight too many social battles at once and, this time, racism takes a back seat to feminism.
#2) GHOSTBUSTERS (2016; $46 million opening, $128 million total)
You can look at Ocean’s 8 in one of two ways: as a reboot of a beloved boys club classic or as a gal pal ensemble. If we go with the former, you have the Ghostbusters reboot as an example of where things could fall. It was only a few years ago we tried to turn the original four ghost slaying buddy boys into a group of four funny females. At the time, I was really excited for it because who doesn’t love the classic story of New York ghost slayers and their awesome arsenal of tech-savvy weapons? When the movie came out, I was still excited about it because it’s actually quite fun and I’ll watch anything with Melissa McCarthy or Chris Hemsworth (as the bumbling receptionist). The problem with the film wasn’t in the quality but, again, in the casting diversity. When there are only four in a group, it seems more reasonable that four men would get rebooted as four women. Ocean’s 8 has plenty of room to throw in a gay man or gender fluid person. But when the number is four, eight or a hundred there is no excuse for a modern day reboot not to try a bit harder when it comes to racial diversity.
The original Ghostbusters had three white men and a black guy. The new Ghostbusters maintains that same racial ratio. No Asians, no Indians, no mixed-race, nothing. The internet seems to have a problem with reboots happening at all. I beg the argument to focus less on the problems rebooting a franchise and focus more on current inclusion. The more we play this tit-for-tat game of “boys did it so now girls will do it” or “Girls Trip did better than Rough Night, so black girls are better than white girls”, maybe we should just throw men and women of all races into a movie together and see what happens. Never mind, Avengers already did that. God bless Marvel for being the best brand in the world. If you haven’t seen Avengers yet, go do that.
#3) SEX AND THE CITY (2008; $57 million opening, $153 million total)
Maybe we shouldn’t look at Ocean’s 8 like a Ghostbusters-esque female-driven reboot of a former franchise. Maybe we should look at it like another movie about a group of girls that love fashion. After all, although the cast of Ocean’s 8 has been out promoting the film and have discussed how they dislike the notion this is a “girls version of a boys movie” and that it’s really “just a fun movie,” they sure aren’t helping themselves by having the heist revolve around stealing jewelry from the Met Gala. Really?! Listen, as my own person I am actually really excited about this. I’m all about my gal pals and shopping and fashion, and I love that when I hang with my girls we can gossip like a couple of old maids. The problem is that when you are out in the public eye you have to play to the crowd, and the crowd is no longer one gender or race. In the 1990’s, Sex and the City took the world by storm on HBO and launched women into the world as equal sexual beings that use men the way they use women. What a great premise! It was liberating and exciting, and me and my gays and my gals definitely saw the movie together when it came out in 2008 and still watch reruns on TV. But that was a movie about white women finally getting their groove on, which was an already tired concept by 2008.
For some reason Ocean’s 8 is doing the same thing. You’ve got a bunch of white women and few others to save face, and those ladies “definitely don’t need a man” but still find themselves chasing jewelry and fashion. I mean, I guess a movie about the Met Gala lends itself to a number of cameos to come (the Kardashians, Katie Holmes and Anna Wintour are on the list) and that’s pretty cool, but at this point I feel like Ocean’s 8 is begging a version of me from ten years ago to see this movie. Me today, as a movie and celebrity lover, can’t wait to see Ocean’s 8. Me also today, as a movie analyst and social observer, thinks white women trying to do what white men did isn’t going to help the many genders and races of the world unite. When I want to watch a group of gals have fun and objectify men, I watch Sex and the City. I’m not entirely sure what purpose Ocean’s 8 will end up serving but I’ll certainly find out opening weekend.
#4) THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (2006; $28 million opening, $125 million total)
The real wild card in Ocean’s 8 is Anne Hathaway. She is considered one of the eight primary ladies of the film and yet, somehow, in the advertising she is also the actress at the Met Gala wearing the jewelry that is going to be stolen. I’m not sure if she knows she involved or if the Met Gala security is dumb enough to not realize she’s actually not famous, but either way she is the only true unknown of the film. Other than her, this looks like a pretty standard heist movie featuring some of the best actresses working today. You’ve got Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter and Sarah Paulson joining Bullock, Hathaway, Rihanna, Kaling and Awkwafina as the eight and they are a great bunch of gals. Again, more diversity might have been nice but we have to be happy with what we got. Oddly enough, though, the only one that’s been in a movie about girl power and fashion is also the only one I really can’t stand.
Back in the day she was destined to be the next Julia Roberts as Hathaway starred in a string of successful “chick flicks.” The most notorious of the bunch is Devil Wears Prada, about a shy girl that gets a heavy dose of fashion insight. It was a surprise hit and one of the last times I remember loving Hathaway. That was, you know, until she won an Oscar for Les Miserables and showed up at the ceremony with puppy eyes like she didn’t know she was going to win. I hate that nonsense. What ever happened to the girl from Princess Diaries? She would’ve been overjoyed to win an Oscar. The Hathaway that won couldn’t act her way to the stage without shedding a fake tear. Maybe that’s why she was hired to play a con woman in Ocean’s 8.
#5) FAST FIVE (2011; $86 million opening, $210 million total)
For all the critical drubbings a good portion of of the Fast and Furious franchise has received, the films have at all times embraced a wide range of racial talent. From the first film all the way through the most recent eighth entry, each Fast and Furious film has included both men and women across all colors of the rainbow. It might be mindless fun to watch the car chases but it is rather beautiful to see one of the first Hollywood franchises to embrace all ethnicities become one of the biggest global brands in the last decade. Granted, they are still due for a gay truck driver or something but I digress. Within this franchise of eight blockbusters is one that stands out, not simply for being the best of the bunch but also the one most distinctly defined as a heist film. Fast Five is the crown jewel of the series and one of the best heist films ever.
It was certainly ahead of its time and the world seems to be catching on, albeit in small baby steps. Black Panther beat up all the white people at Marvel and became their biggest hit, while Ocean’s 8 is hoping a group of A-list actresses can steal your hearts and some diamonds at the same time. Maybe the world isn’t destined to have every movie include blacks and whites, men and women, gay and straight within every scene. That’s actually rather impractical and eventually we’d be watching the same movie every time if that ever did happen. For now, we need to focus less how unequal things were before and how poorly Hollywood is forcing equally now that it’s expected. Sure, you’ve gotta crawl before you can walk, and you have to walk before you can run. But why isn’t anybody skipping? When will real equality get a turn?
I love the cast of Ocean’s 8, I love the Met Gala setting and I can’t wait to see this movie. Then again, I’m a horrible, self-involved jerk so a movie about girls at a gala is right up my alley. This movie is not, however, in the best interest of Hollywood equality. Is it really ok to replace white men with white women, when there are gays and minorities waiting in the wings? #TimesUp is meant to serve more than just women, and if Ocean’s 8 wants to become a franchise I suggest the sequel tries to serve more than that crowd as well. If we take the average amounts of the five recommendations ($51 million opening, $160 million total) we have a decent guess for where Ocean’s 8 lands, though both numbers might be about $10 million too much. If it can come close, though, then we may have a franchise on our hands. The ladies were the ones that spearheaded the #TimesUp movement and they should be the ones to benefit first from the outcome. Should they get another opportunity, I hope they use their power for good and start to include some of the other underserved groups out there. After all, women aren’t the only ones that want to steal some of that box office pie away from the straight white guys.