Ocean’s 13 (2007)

Rated: PG-13
Grade: ACCB=B
Budget: $85 million
Box Office: $117 million US, $193 million abroad

Directed by: Stephen Soderberg, who has directed a lot of stuff including the other Ocean's movies, Traffic, Out of Sight, Erin Brockovich, and Sex, Lies and Videotape.
Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Ellen Barkin, Andy Garcia, Elliot Gould, Al Pacino, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Bernie Mack, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner, and David Paymer.


When one of the gang, Reuben (Elliot Gould), decides to retire from crime and open a new casino with a notoriously deceptive partner who then betrays him, stealing everything from him and causing him to have a heart attack. In response, Danny and the boys cook up a highly complicated scheme to cause the new casino to fail by stealing half a billion dollars from it in one night. Hijinks ensue.

Entertainment Value: A

I was highly entertained start to finish. I laughed out loud several times, and I was fully satisfied by the experience of this only my third movie in a theater in three years. It’s all the same complex plot, fake swindle names, and cool guy atmosphere that made the first two Ocean’s movies work, but this one was better than both. You have to pay attention, and it helps if you know the first two, but it isn’t necessary. What made it so neat to me was that it had every level of comedy: jokes for everyone that no one will miss, jokes for those who know the movies that only they will get, and really clever jokes that only some people will get. Lots of inside and outside jokes mean that everyone’s happy. It’s nice to see that comedy can be something other than Will Ferrell and Tim Allen. Oh, yeah, and the fascinating thing about this one is it was made without Julia Roberts or Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Superficial Content: C

Drugs/Alcohol C , Sexuality C , Violence C, Language B, Illegality D
Ellen Barkin gets seduced using pheremones, and there are several sexy scenes involving her. There’s a riot at a factory, there are some death threats, and a man is poisoned in food and with horrible rash on his skin. Obviously, the whole movie is premised on illegality in the form of a complex theft. Just as obviously, gambling is everywhere in the movie, which really serves as a Las Vegas tribute. PG-13 is just right.

Significant Content: C

The key theme of the movie is loyalty and friendship. In fact, one of the key moments comes when there is a discussion about how the plan cannot possibly work now, but they can’t stop going through with it because it’s a matter of loyalty and revenge rather than a matter of profit. The worldview here is “God helps those who take care of themselves by being super-clever.”

Artistic/Thought Value: B

First of all, the key to this movie was not the great plot, excellent dialogue, or brilliant acting. It was the hotel. The hotel is magnificent. In fact, I watched all the credits just to be sure it wasn’t a real casino in some distant place like Kuala Lumpur or Dubai. It wasn’t, but it was a beauty of CGI genius. Soderbergh has such a distinctive style, and he continued it here, as expected. As with the other Ocean’s movies, the music and its use is excellent, and the thought value of the movie is that it makes you want to have discussions about good guys and bad guys and loyalty to friends.

Discussion Questions:
~“Use things to bless people, don’t use people to acquire things.” How does this phrase relate to this movie? Discuss the various characters in this movie, and evaluate how they get used means to an end or treated as ends in themselves. The treatment of Barkin and the hotel rater are particularly interesting. Would either of them have accepted what was going to be done to them had they known in advance? Afterward? How does this matter? How much does the ending change your view of how the gang treats innocent bystanders?
~“That’s the problem with revenge jobs. You can’t walk away from them when you know you should.” Discuss this statement. How does it relate to investing and money matters in general? ~Have you ever made a bad business or money decision because of emotion?
~Is there any real moral difference between Pacino defrauding Gould and the Ocean’s gang defrauding Pacino? Are all thieves the same?
~Is this movie trying to say anything about the vast discrepancies in standard of living between Las Vegas high rollers and Mexican factory workers? Consider that Soderbergh and Clooney also made Syriana together. How should we reconcile our average American vast wealth with the vast poverty of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world?
~Capitalism rewards ruthlessness, but what happens if the majority of the people in a society behave as Willie Bank does? Is there a way to solve this problem?
~Is it healthy for a person to enjoy watching movies where both the “good” guys and the “bad” guys are all criminals?
~Does anyone in this movie represent real virtue?
~Does a thief like Elliot Gould have any reason to complain about someone stealing all his stolen profits from him?
~Does the motive behind charitable giving matter to those who receive it?
~How would a team of guy criminals like this be different if one or more women were a part of it? ~How are guys different because of women and when women are around?
~Is revenge ever a legitimate motive? What about punishing the unjust who take advantage of others? What might Jesus say to the Ocean gang?
~This movie is saturated with Las Vegas nostalgia and references comparing the old way to the new way, particularly with regard to Sinatra. What do you make of these references? Is there some nobility in the old Vegas that the “new” Vegas has lost, or is this just romanticized nonsense?
Overall Grade: B

Very entertaining. Not so much on the message.

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