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Movie Review: The Monuments Men

The-Monuments-MenSometimes you can sense the amount of care and effort that went into making a movie. But sometimes that care and effort just does not work out the way you initially hoped. That is my feeling behind George Clooney’s latest directorial effort The Monuments Men.

The cast is stellar, the story true, the filmmaking passionate, but the writing and tone are subpar. It works as a fun early year release that will make money solely because people are bored being stuck in their homes hiding away from the cold, but other than that there is nothing else going its way. Critical reaction is already bad seeing how the film has a score of 33% out of 100% on film review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus states, “Its intentions are noble and its cast is impressive, but neither can compensate for The Monuments Men‘s stiffly nostalgic tone and curiously slack narrative.” It’s true, you can tell Clooney and the cast were really trying to put forth an inspiring story and another well done addition into the canon of holocaust movies, but the writing and abundance of comedy turn this should-have-been dramatic movie into a slapstick, too lighthearted and non-affecting film going experience.

It really goes to show how bad writing and lacking direction can even make such talented actors as Bill Murray, John Goodman and Bob Balaban into mediocre try-hards that fumble with poor lines and come out unsuccessful in their usual pursuit of cinematic achievement.

One of the film’s biggest problems is its intense unoriginality. Yes it is based on a true story and everything (or almost everything) in it is authentic, but the way the authenticity is presented seems corny and cliché. There is the charming male protagonist (Clooney or Damon), the sexy love interest (Blanchett), the cantankerous group of buddies (Goodman, Balaban, Murray), the villain (Hitler/Nazi Party) and the typical classical Hollywood narrative that always comes with a happy ending. It’s easy. Clooney has created an easy and simple movie that has one goal and will probably achieve that goal: make money and fund future projects that will hopefully be smarter and more complex.

This is also a case of high expectations getting in the way of your potential enjoyment of the film. From early last year news of Monuments Men took over awards season hype and became an early hopeful for Oscar night, until the release date was pushed back into 2014 thus taking it out of contention for any and all awards of the 2013 film season. The move surprised most of Hollywood seeing how the cast is full of Oscar favorites but the post-production took much longer than expected to “due to issues balancing humor with the serious nature of the subject matter” (The Wrap). Which seems ironic because that’s just what ruined most of this movie. It’s unbalanced and needed even more retouching. The Monuments Men is anything but monumental but does offer an easy trip to the movies during the bitter months of the early year.

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