The Monuments Men Movie Review

Directed and co-written by George Clooney, THE MONUMENTS MEN originally was slated for a December 2013 release in hopes to make a strong award season push.  However, just a month or two before its release the film got pushed to February, reportedly because Clooney was fine tuning the editing process.  I think it’s safe to say, THE MONUMENTS MEN was thrown into the February island of misfit movies because it simply is a bad film.

Monuments Men trailer

Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban and Cate Blanchett, THE MONUMENTS MEN might be one of the greatest casts ever assembled.  At one point the film was on my most anticipated list, so it is with begrudging disappointment that I have to proclaim my utter annoyance for a film with such great prospects.

Based on a true story about a small platoon put together to retrieve stolen art during WWII before Hitler destroyed it all, THE MONUMENTS MEN is an Oscar dreamboat on paper.  WWII period piece – check. A story about how art is important – check.  An all-star cast that already contain multiple Academy awards and nominations – check.  So why does it suck so bad?

Bill Murray in The Monuments Men

Well, I’m not sure where to begin.  The screenplay is a scattered mess.  The amazing cast is improperly utilized, the comedic tone isn’t funny.  The drama is forced.  The score is both squirrelly and generic.  The pacing is sometimes dreadfully slow. And the editing is choppy.  I never care about the characters nor feel any sense of danger that the film so poorly attempts to create.  I am completely flabbergasted by the less than mediocre result beset by such great talent.

George Clooney, Matt Damon in The Monuments Men

George Clooney must create a team to steal Hitler’s stolen art.  Danny Ocean Frank Stokes (Clooney) first enlists a close friend, James Granger (Brad Pitt Matt Damon).  The two of them have a drink as they discuss who would be ideal for this mission while the camera quickly runs through our older group of guys as they find out the news.  I think they slid in some humorous anecdotes or situations here but to be honest, I don’t remember (For the record, I wrote this review immediately following the film).  A better title for THE MONUMENTS MEN should have been “Ocean’s 8”, billed as a prequel. The similarities are endless in a way that would work better as an SNL sketch.  However, even that would require some semblance of humor.  Instead we get casual deliveries of lazy jokes that fall completely flat, only occasionally instigating a chuckle. What’s worse is the dramatic undertone we are suppose to feel for these men as the film openly crams sentimentality down our throats without any setup.  The hokey musical cues will help one identify these moments if there is any question.

George Clooney, Matt Damon in The Monuments Men

Sadly, the film doesn’t offer anything of value that warrants recommending.  Despite the fascinating true premise and amazing cast, there is no big performance piece or overtly humorous dialogue to pull away.  There is no big scene or touching moment to engage in, although it thinks it does.  Is it trying too hard or not trying hard enough?  Either way, THE MONUMENTS MEN is a forgettable piece of filmmaking that doesn’t contain a single moment worth revisiting.


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