THE MONUMENTS MEN
Genre: War Dramedy
Running Time: 118 mins.
Premise: A group of unlikely soldiers are sent on a mission to recover stolen artwork from Nazi thieves and return the masterpieces to their owners.
Behind-the-Scenes: Originally set for release in December, but pushed back relatively last minute to give co-writer/director George Clooney more time to edit, and, as we'll see below, maybe give the movie a chance to avoid getting lost in the shuffle due to a perceived lack of quality.
The Good: Everything good about The Monuments Men centers around its hugely likeable cast. Clooney has assembled a crack squad of expert character actors, including John Goodman, Bill Murray, and Bob Balaban, with A-listers Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett rounding out the cast, plus a recently crowned Best Actor, Jean Dujardin, for added impact. The score by Alexandre Desplat is peppy and memorably mimics the music of action/war films of the 1960s (think The Great Escape). At times, it even makes the movie seem more fun than it actually is.
The Bad: It's earnest to a fault. Clooney directs competently but blandly. The script never really goes anywhere, taking time for several navel-gazing speeches by Clooney's character that spell out the importance of the mission without ever visually demonstrating it. A romantic subplot between Damon and Blanchett goes nowhere. The humor is flat and far too infrequent (don't cast Bill Murray and give the man nothing to do!). For a war movie, there's very little in the way of action or excitement.
Should You See It?: No. I expected more from Clooney and this cast. Looks like it was pushed out of Oscar season for good reason.
Star Rating: ** out of 5 stars.
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