Review: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Screenwriter: Ted Griffin
Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia
Genres: Comedy, Crime, Thriller
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some language and sexual content
Release Dates: 12/7/01 (Theatres); 5/7/02 (DVD); 8/28/11 (Streaming)
Runtime: 1 hour, 56 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
Where to Watch: Netflix

Ocean’s Eleven is one of those movies that is probably nearly impossible to dislike, even if you find nit-picky elements that you dislike or find off-putting; I find it to be a near-perfect film that I’ve seen more times than I can count (most recently, just a couple weeks ago). I could easily say that it is among my favorite movies of all time, although that is a fairly long list. Almost 20 years later, it’s still an incredibly entertaining, charming, funny, and thrilling film with a top-notch cast who clearly had the time of their lives. Plus, don’t forget the awesome music and set pieces. 

But, maybe let’s start with some of the things people don’t like, such as American Don Cheadle’s oft-maligned British accent. Apparently, Cheadle studied a specific dialect in order to sound that way, but it ends up being over the top — which I’m totally fine with, and he’s actually quite funny in the role (accent aside). Another complaint I’ve seen is that Julia Roberts’ Tess is presented in a rather cruel light, which I can understand. She’s dressed very classily and her beauty is accentuated, but she is also like a secondary villain in her interactions with her ex-husband, Danny (George Clooney). However, she is redeemed at the end when she realizes Benedict (Andy Garcia) doesn’t really care about her, and decides she prefers Danny the thief. 

People may also comment on the highly unrealistic nature of the film’s events and how the Ocean’s 11 team is able to pull off the heist. Yes, we know that it’s all fairly farfetched, but because the film is so well-executed and entertaining that this doesn’t matter. It’s not meant to be realistic or believable, and is the kind of film that is supposed to give us a new world and characters to experience, and it certainly does just that. 

The film’s cast is basically a dream; I mean, what’s better than seeing heartthrobs and A-listers Clooney, Damon, and Pitt acting side by side? They’re assisted by Cheadle, Garcia (fitting the villain role quite nicely), Roberts (the only significant female role), Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Elliott Gould, the late Carl Reiner, and more. Everyone gets a moment to shine, and you can tell they all had fun making the film. It’s unfortunate that the sequels (there are two) are disappointing. But, it’s always difficult to repeat what has already been perfect.