“Ocean’s Thirteen,” review by Susan Granger

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Move over, Spidey, Shrek and Sparrow – Danny Ocean’s back in Vegas!

When trusting Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould) has a coronary seizure after he’s been swindled out of half-ownership in a new hotel/casino by ruthless, egomaniacal Willy Bank (Al Pacino), Danny (George Clooney) summons the gang to avenge their old pal by breaking The Bank: rigging the gambling games so Willy loses millions, stealing his precious collection of diamond necklaces, and dashing his dreams of winning the coveted Five Diamond Award. The crime caper’s scheduled on The Bank’s Opening Night, July 3rd – and, being “analog players in a digital world,” the gang’s got a lot to learn in a short time in order to outmaneuver the impregnable Greco, The Bank’s artificial intelligence security system that not only thinks but also reasons.

Writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien (“Rounders”) and sophisticated director/cinematographer Steven Soderbergh explain the absence of Tess and Isobel (Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones) – “It’s not their fight” – so it’s Linus (Matt Damon) who romances Abigail Sponder (Ellen Barkin), Willy’s top exec. Otherwise, it’s about loyalty, professionalism and male camaraderie among Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin and Carl Reiner.

Frank Sinatra starred in the original “Oceans Eleven” and its three sequels, so it resonates when Reuben recoils at Bank’s duplicity, saying, “You and I both shook Sinatra’s hand, and there’s a code among the guys who shook Sinatra’s hand.” Crassly, Bank snorts, “Screw Sinatra’s hand!”

Omnipresent Oprah makes an appearance and – at the conclusion – there’s in-joke bantering about Clooney’s “Syriana” poundage and Pitt’s well-publicized parenthood. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Oceans 13” is a cool, playful 9. It’s a winner as one of this summer’s guiltiest pleasures.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.