POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!
“Who will make sure that the statue of David is still standing and the Mona Lisa is still smiling?”
Why, “The Monuments Men” of course.
George Clooney stars and directs this World War II drama about a small team of Americans searching for art stolen by the Germans towards the end of World War II. “The Monuments Men” is an old-fashioned World War II movie, the kind Hollywood used to make in the 1950’s when the war was still fresh in people’s minds. Some of those movies became classics, and one of the key’s to their success was with a star-studded cast.
My guess is “The Monuments Men” was in some ways inspired by those 1950’s war films. As the director, George Clooney managed to give this film an appealing retro look. while keeping the overall mood happy yet serious. The movie is very funny at times, but it never lets the viewer forget that the cast is working in an active war zone. The soundtrack is buoyant, and helps move the story along. The music is light when it needs to be, and dramatic where it should be.
George Clooney plays Frank Stokes, who heads the operation and enlists the group during the latter part of the war. He puts together a bunch of like-minded fellows – played by John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Matt Damon, Hugh Bonneville and Jean Dujardin. Not surprisingly, Clooney and Matt Damon are great as the leads. Damon was especially good playing against Cate Blanchett who plays a French woman who works at the Louvre,
As good as they were, it was John Goodman and Bill Murray who stole the movie. Some of my favorite moments include Goodman finding out during basic training that he’s being shot at with real bullets, and not blanks. Bill Murray has several brilliant moments, including a trip to a dentist, a John Wayne reference, and a touching Christmas scene.
And don’t look past Bob Balaban who plays his character dry as toast. He smiles through jokes and some comedy done at his expense, mostly from Bill Murray.
If I have one complaint about the movie, it would be the lighting. I realize the feel and look they were going for, and it works more often than not. However, there were too many scenes which were dimly lit, even when it was daylight. Using this technique in the salt mines, or at night makes sense, but not the rest of the time.
I suppose “The Monuments Men” best quality is that keeps things very real. It often illustrates how hard it was for them to make their case when millions have already died. This becomes quite clear when Clooney and his team land on the beach at Normandy, weeks after D-Day.
Their families are always on their minds, but they know their mission is important. What I liked best was how quickly the group became brothers. They saw each other through the good times and the bad. And they always had each other’s back.
A lot of movie critics haven’t been very kind to “The Monuments Men.” I suggest seeing the movie for yourself because I think those critics missed the point. Some of them were probably expecting this movie would be another “Saving Private Ryan.” Well, it’s not. Nor should it be.
“The Monuments Men” final score: 8.5