Monday, June 18, 2007

A Blackbird's Way of Looking at 'Thirteen'

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections,
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
Brad Pitt whistling
Or just after.

OK, so I have now seen Ocean's 13, and I can report that the most exciting thing about it has been omitted all the reviews I have seen: Super Dave Osborne is in it!

In his review Roger Ebert complains that the film defies belief, which is kind of like whining that Wild Things was a little sleazy. Of course it's preposterous. The whole thing is preposterous. That's part of the fun.

I think you have to approach all the Ocean's Double Figures movies like a Bugs Bunny cartoon. There's that one installment when Bugs and Elmer Fudd are out in the middle of nowhere and Elmer is about to collapse, so Bugs produces some cake batter, and a spoon and bowl and an oven out of his "pocket," quickly bakes a cake, produces a minister from out of the woods, who then marries Bugs (who has donned a wedding dress, produced out of the same place he got the oven) and Elmer, who then proceeds to collapse face first into the wedding cake. (If anyone else remembers this sequence and can point me to the cartoon where it happens, please do so.)

That's what Danny Ocean's boys do. Brad Pitt shows up at one point as a hippie geologist, Don Cheadle as a sideburned Evel Knievel type in a red, white and blue jumpsuit (and remember, he's playing a British guy). Casey Affleck goes to work in a Mexican dice factory wearing a pasted-on Frito Bandito mustache; no one seems to notice. When they need them, the boys produce a flock of biting ants to stick into someone's bed, or the massive machine that dug the Chunnel under the English Channel. (At least they make a nodding acquaintance with reality on this latter point, discussing how they'll get the money to pay for it. The payoff in 13 is a bit murky; the plot is set in motion when the boys vow to get revenge for Elliott Gould and recover his half-ownership of a new luxury hotel/casino, which he has been cheated out of by Al Pacino. For the whole thing to make sense, Gould/Reuben will have to give them something like $100 million, just out of the goodness of his heart, which maybe is something he would do after all. But he certainly doesn't agree to any of that before their multi-million-dollar plan is in motion.)

You just have to go with it, suspend your disbelief for a bit, and everything will be fine. The odious French guy from 12 is only in it for a few fleeting minutes, and has, I think, one line. Plus you got Super Dave Osborne. What's not to love?

FOOTNOTE: According to the trivia section of the IMDB, Brad Pitt's cellphone ringtone is from "Thieves Like Us" by New Order, but don't be fooled: It's actually "Don't You Want Me" by the Human League.


MJN said...

You're thinking of two different cartoons. The cake-baking sequence comes from "Rabbit Hood", and the victim is the Sheriff of Nottingham. The Sheriff needs something in which to plant his face because Bugs has just finished dubbing him "Sir Loin of Beef", "Essence of Myrrh", etc., etc. Way funny!

I seem to remember another cartoon where Bugs, in wedding gown, marries a dazed Elmer, but specific details escape me at the moment.

T. Nawrocki said...

The one with Bugs in a wedding gown marrying Elmer is the legendary "Rabbit of Seville." For a while, I thought I had misremembered the details, but I found that one on YouTube last night, and while the scene ends with Bugs dropping Elmer on a wedding cake, he does not pull the oven &c. out of his pocket, which I distinctly remembered him doing.

I'll see if I can find "Rabbit Hood" anywhere.

MJN said...

Actually, it's Elmer in the wedding gown at the conclusion of "Rabbit of Seville". I never laughed so hard in my life as when I saw that film in a theater full of Looney Tunes fans.