Cary, NC- The Monuments Men is George Clooney’s fifth time in the directors’ chair, following critically acclaimed films like Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and the Oscar nominated Good Night, and Good Luck. Unfortunately, The Monuments Men squanders its unique premise and ends up losing itself with an uneven tone and by wasting its talented cast.
Monuments Men Ripe For Telling
The film tells the untold story of a platoon made up of art scholars in World War II who are tasked by FDR with recapturing the millions of pieces of art that were stolen by Hitler and other Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners.
It’s a story ripe for telling, and George Clooney seemed like an excellent choice to be the one to tell it. He’s shown that he can do historical drama well with the aforementioned Good Night, and Good Luck, and by adding Bill Murray, John Goodman, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett to his cast there was no reason why The Monuments Men couldn’t have been a home run.
Uneven Tone and Wasted Cast
Sadly, it seems that Clooney couldn’t figure out what kind of movie he wanted to make.
The film opens with Clooney convincing FDR that the mission should indeed take place. It’s a fairly serious scene that’s intended to add weight to the premise and it’s done well, but then it’s quickly undermined with a “blink-or-you’ll-miss it” introduction to the rest of the platoon that’s awkwardly paced and too silly.
Unfortunately the rest of the movie follows suit, going back and forth between serious and funny in a way that never really comes together.
Clooney’s To Blame
The blame has to go on Clooney’s shoulders. Not only a director, but credited as writer, producer and actor as well, it’s clear he couldn’t find a tone that could fit the movie.
It’s certainly possible to make an historical war drama that’s filled with brevity and humor, especially with a “men on a mission” type movie as this.
Clooney even cast actors that can handle both comedy and drama with ease, like Murray and Goodman. And while there are a few moments where some of the cast gets a few moments to shine, those moments tend to stick out like a sore thumb because the rest of the film can’t decide what movie it wants to be.
It’s a bit of a foregone conclusion that some of the guys aren’t going to make it. It’s a war movie after all. However, those moments come and go with no dramatic weight. Clooney expects these moments to stick with the audience, especially as the team makes it a point to capture a piece of art that one of the deceased platoon members died trying to save. But it just doesn’t work, leading to a pointless conclusion that again carries no dramatic weight.
Save Your Money
It’s safe to say that I was really disappointed with The Monuments Men. I have a lot of respect for Clooney as a filmmaker, and I still believe he can make a great movie. In fact, I should mention that The Monuments Men isn’t exactly a terrible movie, just a giant missed opportunity. For that very reason though, I just can’t bring myself to recommend that The Monuments Men be seen in theaters. Stay home and watch Ocean’s 11 instead.
Review by Jordan Hunt for CaryCitizen. Read more Movie Reviews.