Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Bonneville, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban. Dimitri Leonidas
Directed by: George Clooney
Synopsis: An unlikely World War II platoon is tasked to rescue art masterpieces from Nazi thieves and return them to their owners.
I went into this with the weight of critical disappointment hanging round my neck. Perhaps because of this, I actually really enjoyed The Monuments Men. I thought it was charming and, despite being perhaps a little slow in places, entertaining. It was Saving Private Ryan meets Ocean’s Eleven.
The story is of a gang of seven art professionals tasked with finding stolen and missing art pieces behind enemy lines during World War Two. Hitler has decided he would like some of the greatest art ever created, and it’s time to get it back before it’s destroyed forever. Whether you think it was worth it depends on how much you value art I guess. But, as Clooney says in the movie, it’s not just art, it’s our history.
The thing that excites me most about this picture, I think, is that it’s quite reminiscent of those great Sixties war flicks, like The Dirty Dozen and Kelly’s Heroes. The ones that are more about ‘the gang’ than war itself. The rag-tag group of guys thrown together in exceptional circumstances. It even has one of those jaunty ‘Great Escape’ style theme songs as well.
Maybe the film didn’t go down well because the stakes didn’t seem high enough? After all, Clooney and co are pitched in to battle to find art, rather than save lives or win the war. So, was Clooney wrong? Art clearly isn’t as important as human lives. Which is right of course. But, the film still won me over anyway, with it’s camaraderie and jovial moments and too a few emotional moments as well, such as when Bill Murray hears a message from his grand daughters.
The acting is good, as would be expected with a cast as good as this. The atmosphere of the film, besides the aforementioned war flicks, reminded me, as many Clooney films do, of the good natured Newman/Redford films. That easy going nature with a slight humorous edge.
I guess if the film flopped it could be because of the misleading promotion campaign, which suggested the film would be a riotous heist movie. In truth, it isn’t really a heist movie. Nor is it really a war movie I suppose. But whatever kind of movie it is, I still enjoyed it the comedic interplay between Murray and Balaban, and the friendship of Goodman and Dujardin, and the as usual cool of Clooney.