Director: George Clooney
Cast: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, John Goodman
Running Time: 118 min
Plot: Based on the real life accomplishments of a team nicknamed the monuments men, Frank Stokes (Clooney) assembles a motley crew of art historians to travel into war time Germany and recapture European culture from out of Hitler’s vaults.
Saving Private Rembrandt. Ocean’s (WW) II. The Dirty Half-Dozen. Engel-orius Basterds. These are just some of the working titles for George Clooney’s WWII caper ensemble The Monuments Men. Probably. Inspired by the true story of a troupe of middle-aged professor types that were cobbled together to prevent a cultural holocaust by the Nazi’s, The Monuments Men is a confused and rather fiddly affair, but the ace casting is just enough to give you your *Monet’s* worth.
Following the comedic mischiefs of ‘basic’ (during which Bill Murray revisits his Stripes days), the bouncy tone becomes odiously over-reverent, with George Clooney’s craggy voiceover constantly reiterating with unconvincing conviction that art is as valuable as life itself. The cast is afforded little opportunity to do Fred Stokes and his baroque brigade of art historians justice – four separate story arcs spread things awfully far apart, and character development is very thin on the ground, especially in the case of John Goodman and Jean Dujardin’s ill-suited pairing.
Clooney promised a rollicking lark akin to films like ‘The Longest Day’ and ‘Where Eagles Dare’, but aside from a Alexandre Desplat’s uplifting military-epsionage score, it doesn’t deliver. One by one each and every war film cliché is ceremoniously run up the flagpole, and the Nazis and Russians are painted with violently pro-American broad strokes. ‘Ohhh sayyy can you SEEEEEEEEE…’
Again and again in The Monuments Men, Clooney demands that society remember those that lost their lives to protect our way of life – they have been and they will be, but sadly the same cannot be said for his film.