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[Article] – ‘Ocean’s Eight’ & The Gender Flip Film Trend

 

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Posted November 12, 2017 by

 
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The Ocean’s trilogy directed by Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich, Magic Mike) was a successful comedy heist series with a truly star-studded cast, featuring three of ‘People’ magazine’s ‘Sexiest Men Alive’: George Clooney (From Dusk till Dawn, O Brother Where Art Thou?), Matt Damon (The Bourne Identity, Good Will Hunting) and Brad Pitt (Fight Club, Inglourious Basterds). In a most surprising turn of events, Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Pleasantville) will direct ‘Ocean’s Eight’ (2018) – an all-female spinoff including Sandra Bullock (Gravity, Miss Congeniality), Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club, Harry Potter), Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada) and Cate Blanchett (The Lord of the Rings, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). The premise of the film is that Danny Ocean’s estranged sister Debbie attempts a heist at the New York City Met Gala. Many fashion industry bigwigs will make cameos in the film such as Anna Wintour, Zac Posen, Kim Kardasian West and sisters Kendal and Kylie Jenner. With so many great appearances and accomplished actresses, this remake surely has everything going for it. It does beg the question though, why the remake now and why with an entirely new cast?

A new trend has sprung, like when the found footage subgenre was made; everyone wanted to jump on board and see if the world would like their version of careless hikers with camcorders. Now it would appear that people yearn for older movies recast with all female leads. The motives for this new trend of lady-driven films are however, split. On the one hand, it’s a statement of female inequality in Hollywood and on the other, it’s a new angle to a well-known and typically well appreciated film. But with the current discussion of unequal wages between men and women in the film industry, the latter reason seems more of a cover-up for the true intention. While female inequality remains an issue throughout the world, when ideals become more important than compelling stories, films start to veer from fun escapism into forceful propaganda. This becomes all too apparent when good writing and directing go out the window in order to communicate a certain agenda in addition to riding the coat tails of a successful blockbuster.

The 2016 mildly anticipated remake of ‘Ghostbusters’ did just this. Writer and director Paul Frieg (Bridesmaids, Spy) decided that an ill-conceived shell of an idea for a gender flip film was acceptable enough to start his shooting schedule. This laziness ultimately let his talented cast down, throwing them into entire scenes without dialogue and direction. He clearly didn’t understand that when a classic film is remade, it is instantly under more scrutiny than an original. Freig rested on the laurels of a film that wasn’t even his and made little effort to be equally as remarkable or surpass the appeal of the 1984 version. All he brought to the table was a terrible excuse for a girl power film when it had the real potential to bring fresh perspective and contemporary relevancy. In the end, it just sadly ended up playing into the stereotype that woman aren’t funny, even though the leading ladies were all very accomplished comedians.

So where does this leave Hollywood? It would all be so much easier if the gender pay gap closed and if diversity of characters was not forced but given real opportunity. If ideas started with unique tales of life and fantasy and not with filling roles based on political messages. Or next, we might be seeing trailers for all-boys casts of ‘Mean Girls’ (2004), ‘Little Women’ (1994) or even ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ (2005). Well, as long as they keep the line, “you think a pair of jeans that fits all three of you is going to fit… allllll of this.”

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Written by:

Jessica Shavlik
@thefilmcactus
Freelance Contributor

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