The Ocean's series are perfect summer movies. Say what you will about the second (I didn't care for it in the theater, but it has grown on me significantly via cable viewings), but all three do exactly what they are intended to do and more: they are mindless popcorn flicks that entertain without insulting your intelligence. Sure, there are unbelievable scams here and there, but the sheer volume of characters (and their respective talents) make most of it believable. Also, with a strong, confident director, and capable writers, you never feel like you're being left out to dry.
Without saying too much (the trailer has said plenty already), the scam this time involves getting revenge on another casino owner, this time played by Al Pacino, who brings a lot to the acting table, and thankfully spares us the now-clichéd "Hoo-ah!" speech that he's become known for ever since Scent of a Woman (a rejuvenated Ellen Barkin is also on board, as Pacino's right-hand woman). Notably (and thankfully, I think) absent are Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones, as their characters are apparently stuck in Europe or something, while the whole gang ends up back in Vegas. More so than in the first, the return to and of Vegas is a running theme, and it adds a deeper meaning to the film that was absent previously.
Along the way, many loose ends are tied up, many old friends show up, new characters introduced (most notably the nebbishy David Paymer as a hotel reviewer, as well as a Super Dave Osborne appearance), some great cameos, a number of in-jokes, and a whole lot of disguises. Among the most impressive scams Soberberg pulls off is the inclusion of a fabricated grand hotel right smack dab in the middle of the strip - and it's not like it's just one CGI shot; there are numerous shots from various angles.
All that said, the best and most important things I can say about Ocean's Thirteen are that a) I had a smile on my face the entire time (excluding the first 15 minutes, when a gaggle of teenage comedians sitting in front of us decided to use the theater as an improv class, to poor results), and b) it made me want to get on the next plane to Las Vegas. Perhaps Clooney and the gang should be getting residuals from the Bellagio. Talk about free advertising.
Fletch's Film Rating:
"It's in the hole!"
* Oh, and by the way: I wondered the other day who the "13th" person was that would make the title complete. Though they never reference it in the movie, it's safe to say that it's Eddie Izzard - his role gets a bit bigger here, and more than just being a "vendor" as he was before, he actually takes an active role in the scam. So that's that.
* Fun fact time: Super Dave Osborne aka Bob Einstein is Albert Brooks' brother. Yes, Albert Brooks' real name is Albert Einstein.