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The Monuments Men

Coming Soon

Put a checkmark in the tolerable column for George Clooney’s honorable, albeit jarring tribute to the art scholar soldiers recruited to recover artistic works from the pillaging Nazi’s during WWII. The Monuments Men marches its way into theaters February 7th; rated PG-13 for some images of war violence and historical smoking.

Under-delivering on its promise for an exciting trek through European war-torn landscapes in search of man-kinds greatest treasures, Monuments Men sputters along an incongruous narrative, rife with inexplicable plot devices. It opens to a silhouetted Roosevelt hiding in the foreground and art archivist Frank Stokes (Clooney) laying out the details for FDR’s last concern -European fine art and landmarks are being pilfered and destroyed at Hitler’s demand. Not surprisingly, the Nazi-leader is an evil prick, demanding to destroy everything if the Third Reich fails. Stout recruits an Ocean’s Eleven (seven-ish) of highly talented art historians and preservationists to prevent the senseless destruction, but its completed in propagandist fashion, complete with war-time ditty’s and superfluous humor.

Bill Murray is a delight, however, there is zero chemistry emanating from a veteran cast that also includes Bob Balaban, John Goodman and Jean Dujardin. Clooney never escapes his own debonair reputation, while Matt Damon appears clueless in any screen time he shares with Cate Blanchett.

The acting pales in comparison to Clooney’s seemingly misguided directorial decision-making. Half-way through this historical tribute, the director/writer departs from the proposed narrative to remind viewers of the severities that plagued World War II. In one scene, a traumatic hospital experience is interlaced with a home-brewed recording of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, and with the manufactured emotions that follow. Other scenes like cache barrels containing gold teeth, kids with guns and a pointless exercise with land-mines, prescribe artificial suspense to the otherwise upbeat tone of this project.

It’s neither bad nor good, however, it is a valiant attempt to recognize the unsung heroes of the world’s most prized historical artifacts. Overall, due to an oddly upbeat vision of these terrible crimes, and crippled by numerous plot diversions, the product doesn’t pay off in the end. When asked, “are these artworks worth the life sacrificed to recover them?”, Monuments Men didn’t quite convince.

The Monuments Men is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Chris Giroux
Chris Giroux is founder and editor-in-charge at Movie Reelist, an entertainment news and review blog serving the most fanatic moviegoers. Chris started his publication in Detroit in 2010 and has since reviewed hundreds of films and interviewed numerous talent across the country. He is an avid film festival attendee and red carpet photographer, having shot the likes of Steven Spielberg, Bill Murray, Mark Hamill, and more. Chris grew up in New Mexico, where he studied mass media writing while working in post-production and multimedia authoring. It is also where he discovered Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York, resulting in an unhealthy Kurt Russell obsession.


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