Something very unsettling happens toward the end of "Ocean's Twelve," the follow-up to director Steven Soderbergh's remake of the Rat Pack film "Ocean's Eleven." It's likely that if I reveal exactly what that something is, Soderbergh or some lackey at Warner Bros. will hunt me down and have me savagely beaten or apply some damaging ointment to my groin region or abduct me and force me to watch "Alexander" over and over again until I beg for the sweet release of death. So basically, I just can't risk it.
Suffice it to say that something involves a big, self-referential Hollywood in-joke, in which Soderbergh and his actors acknowledge that their characters actually inhabit the same world as their real actor selves. Imagine Danny Ocean (George Clooney) talking about George Clooney's latest film and you get an inkling of what's going on. Basically, I hate that kind of crap. It's not unlike watching the monkeys at the zoo. The monkeys are entertaining as long as they're playing with the tires and swinging from the ropes, but once they start throwing their own feces at the window, it's time to move on to another exhibit.
One minute we're in the middle of a movie about Ocean, Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) and the rest of the crew trying to pull of a robbery to repay Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), and the next minute we're in the middle of what vaguely resembles some kind of adult pajama party. It's really weird. It's the kind of thing where audience members turn to each other and ask, "Isn't that what celebrity roasts are for?" You might be only vaguely familiar with celebrity roasts because only celebrities go to them to make fun of other celebrities. When that sort of artificial, self-mocking whimsy suddenly appears in the middle of a film, you begin anticipating the appearance of Allen Funt.
Danny's pursuit of Tess (Julia Roberts) from the first film is replaced with Rusty's pursuit of a detective, Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Tess went from Danny's arms to Benedict's arms in the first film; Isabel goes from Rusty's arms into the arms of the law in the second. Essentially, parts of the script from the first film were regurgitated and some names were replaced to make it seem different, but it's not. Furthermore, unless Catherine Zeta-Jones is playing a princess, a model, or a litigious neighbor, her believability in any other profession is entirely off the charts. If she truly were a detective in macho Europe, the only thing she'd have time for is filling out harassment paperwork.
Clooney, Pitt, and the gang will probably congratulate themselves and talk about the possibility of an "Ocean's 13," but let's hope not.
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