Clever heist movies are usually a slam dunk for Hollywood. Audiences like being in on the con. We’re excited about the set-up, the bait-and-switch, the betrayals. We’re especially fond of the smooth-talking, fast-thinking, twinkle-in-the-eye perpetrators, because deep down we love rooting for criminals. At least fictional ones.

Ocean’s 8 is the latest larceny lark. It features a terrific cast, checks most of the heist-movie boxes and is pleasantly entertaining. But a stronger script could have pushed it to much greater heights. Part of the somewhat truncated Ocean’s franchise, the twist is that this time the team of thieves is all women, led by Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett.

Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, sister of master con man Danny Ocean, who was played with elegant mischief by George Clooney in the three-fer directed by Steven Soderbergh: Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Ocean’s Twelve (2004), and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007).

Debbie is just being paroled from prison when we meet her and she immediately connects with her former cohort, Lou (Blanchett) in New York. As with Clooney’s Danny and Brad Pitt’s Rusty, who regularly assembled a team of dudes to score ill-gotten millions in their Ocean’s movies, Debbie and Lou are the alphas, recruiting a gang of women with special skills. The target: a massive, mouth-watering Cartier diamond necklace that weighs more than six pounds and is worth $150 million.

The team includes an expert hacker (Rihanna), a gifted scrounger (Sarah Paulson), a jewelry-maker (Mindy Kaling), a feisty pickpocket (Awkwafina) and a frazzled fashion designer (Helena Bonham Carter).

The latter is necessary because she will design the dress for glitzy celebrity Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) to wear to the star-studded Met Gala. The gang does not plan to rob Anna Wintour’s annual extravaganza at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, per se. They merely wish to pilfer the hefty ice that will be hanging around Kluger’s neck that night. At least that’s the plan.

Usually, the assembling-the-team, or getting-the-band-back-together scenes are some of the most fun moments in these films. But Ocean’s 8 gets off to a sluggish start as Debbie hatches her plan and confronts an old nemesis, oily art dealer Claude Becker (Richard Armitage).

Directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) and co-written by Ross and Olivia Milch, Ocean’s 8 can feel a little too paint-by-numbers at times. For a comedy, there aren’t a ton of laughs, and once the big robbery gets going, it’s intriguing but there never seems to be much at stake for these characters.

Oddly, there is also little chemistry or camaraderie between Debbie and Lou, which is detrimental to the flow of the film, but also surprising considering the mega-watt appeal of Bullock and Blanchett. Bullock’s performance is especially dry and one-note (a sentence I have never written).

On the upside, Rihanna and Paulson deliver impressive, believable performances, and Hathaway shines as the self-obsessed Daphne. James Corden arrives late to add some verve as an exasperated insurance investigator, and for celebrity spotters, the screen is littered with cameos, as the gala guest list includes Katie Holmes, Heidi Klum, Serena Williams and, of course, various Kardashians and Jenners.

Ocean’s 8 has more in common with the original Ocean’s 11 from 1960, in which Rat Packers led by Frank, Dean and Sammy robbed five Las Vegas casinos simultaneously.

That wasn’t a great movie, and neither is this. But it is fun to hang out and enjoy the star power for a few hours.

Clint O’Connor covers pop culture. He can be reached at 330-996-3582 or coconnor@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClintOMovies.