Movie Review: ‘The Monuments Men’

The Monuments Men Review
John Goodman, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Bob Balaban, and Bill Murray in 'The Monuments Men' (Photo © 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Reviewed by Ian Forbes

2014. We need to talk. You see, 2013 was a problem. I can’t name more than a very small handful of films that are going to take up any space in my brain hole. Sometimes a year is just like that: cinematically disappointing. But when a year doesn’t deliver the filmic goodness one would like, karmically the following year should make up for things.

Sure, January is always a dumping ground but sometimes it’s a fun dumping ground. As I was not invited to a screening of I, Frankenstein, I can’t tell you if it was so bad it’s worth seeing or not. Now February has arrived and there’s a new star-studded affair directed by the unofficial King of Hollywood, George Clooney. On paper, The Monuments Men sounds like it was built for an awards push. A-list actors, well-connected director who’s also starring in the film, emotionally charged subject material.

Where does it all go wrong? Honestly, right from the start. Clooney can’t seem to stop fawning all over the actors on-screen, both via his script and his direction. The film is far more interested in a series of character-specific moments than focusing on the story. Then there’s the score, which is quite possibly the worst score I’ve heard in years. It seems like a mix of circus music and terrible pirate shanties. It only makes the horrifically cliché and over the top melodrama that unfolds over the two hour running time even more hard to take.

All that being said, the screening audience seemed to love it. And why not? It’s got a bevy of likable actors and the actions of the Nazis are sugar-coated like your Saturday morning breakfast cereal. Add on the poorly thought out story and character development, and boy howdy, Clooney’s got himself a winner.

Wait, hold on. My brain appears to have forgotten what “winner” means. Whatever. Look, the point here is that while the trailer is slick and makes it look like there might be some merit to The Monuments Men, just wait for someone to make a documentary. The facts are fascinating. Clooney’s misshapen narrative is not.

GRADE: D+

The Monuments Men opens in theaters on February 7, 2014 and is rated PG-13 for some images of war violence and historical smoking.

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