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Family Movie Review: Ocean’s 8 (PG-13)

Kernel Rating: whole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalhalf popcorn kernal (4.5 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG-13          Length: 110 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 13+. This female-focused extension of the ‘Ocean’s’ franchise has a lot of the same elements as those films, which focused on elaborate heists and schemes in casinos, European cities, and more casinos. Characters plan to steal a fortune, they lie and obfuscate to pull off the heist, and you see the main character serving time in prison. Some cursing and vulgar language; some flirting, making out, and sexually themed content, including an implied night together that involves handcuffs and a slap in the face; characters drink and smoke marijuana; and one character threatens another with a weapon crafted in prison. Also, much like the preceding ‘Ocean’s’ films, there is a focus on wealth, money, and luxury here, with a fair amount of product placement as well.

The unbelievably talented cast assembled for ‘Ocean’s 8’ makes this movie one of the most fun visits to the movie theater this summer. The film is packed with style and charisma, and its focus on female friendships and relationships is a welcome respite from the typical summer blockbuster.

By Roxana Hadadi

Oceans8 ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReviewMost summer blockbusters are action-packed extravaganzas. So far this season, we’ve had “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” and coming weeks will also bring “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” and another Marvel Cinematic Universe offering, “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” It all feels a bit repetitive — and “Ocean’s 8” is a stylish, fun, wish-fulfilling respite from the destructive explosions, monstrous animals on the loose, and men and women in stretchy spandex.

The latest in the “Ocean’s” franchise that starred George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon, among others, and stretched over “Ocean’s 11,” Ocean’s 12,” and “Ocean’s 13,” “Ocean’s 8” takes things in a decidedly female direction, with a crew that includes actresses Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, and Sarah Paulson, rapper Awkwafina, and the iconic Rihanna. And this time around, they’re not focused on ripping off a Las Vegas casino or stealing fine European art — their mark is the Met Gala, an annual fundraising event for New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute that attracts Hollywood’s A-list in their very sparkly, very expensive finest.

The movie begins with Debbie Ocean (Bullock, of “Minions”) making her case at a parole hearing, pledging that after her release, she’ll live a simple life. But in reality, for the past five years of her incarceration she has been planning a major job, one that would need a small crew but would reap major rewards. Much like her brother, the late Danny Ocean (played by Clooney in the preceding films), Debbie approaches putting together her trusted circle with finesse and thoughtfulness, and she’ll need the best of the best to pull off her planned Met Gala heist.

So the crew comes together. First is her longtime partner in crime Lou (Blanchett, of “Thor: Ragnarok”), who is looking for something more exciting than watering down bottles of vodka in the nightclub she owns. There’s also jeweler Amita (Kaling, of “A Wrinkle in Time”), pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina), hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), fashion designer Rose Weil (Carter, of “Suffragette”), and fence Tammy (Paulson, of “The Post”). Together, they aim to steal a necklace valued at $150 million — more than enough to set all of them up for life. The plan is to get famous actress Daphne Kluger (Hathaway, of “Alice Through the Looking Glass”) to wear the necklace to the Met Gala, steal it, and replace it with a fake before anyone can notice. How hard can it be?

Although this installment in the “Ocean’s” franchise isn’t directed by Steven Soderbergh, helmer of the three Clooney-Pitt films, writer and director Gary Ross (who also directed the first “Hunger Games” film) successfully mimics his style here. The film is paced well, allowing each member of the crew to get her own introduction and to build friendships with the other women, and how the heist is pulled off is complicatedly layered and then patiently revealed. Things are certainly tense, but there is such ease and affection between the members of this cast, and their characters so well-developed and actualized, that you’ll love watching every moment of the planning, the heist, and the aftermath, stressful or not. Plus, the production design — from the opulence of the Met Gala to the amazingness of Lou’s outfits — provides plenty to gush over after the movie is done.

“Ocean’s 8” is exactly the kind of breezy fun you’ll want for a mother-daughter date this summer, or for an afternoon chaperoning teen daughters, nieces, or family friends. The movie’s subtle messaging about female capability and friendship is slyly and enjoyably delivered, and “Ocean’s 8” builds upon the dude-heavy world of this franchise while also staking its own empowering claim.

Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater.

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