Title: The Monuments Men

Director: George Clooney

Based on: The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter

In theaters: February 7, 2014 from Columbia Pictures

Genre: Action-Adventure

Rating: PG- 13

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

An unlikely World War II platoon is tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys – seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 – possibly hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.

The Monuments Men is not the type of movie I would usually watch, but both David and my mom wanted to see it, and Amber wasn’t against it. I tend to avoid war movies and tear-jerkers and I was afraid this one would fall into both categories, but it was billed as an action-adventure, which gave me hope. “Drama” would have made me worried. And the cast is fabulous, Clooney, Goodman, Murray, Damon.

Turned out I really enjoyed it. It’s not getting the best reviews, but I liked the relative lightness of it. It could have been heavy and sad, but it wasn’t a “serious” movie. This group of misfits is trying to save art from the Nazis. To them, it’s about saving the culture and it matters.

If it wasn’t for Clooney’s monologues reminding us of the point, it could have almost been like MASH. It has funny moments, poignant moments that don’t actually push me over the line into tears (until like the last scene). I wasn’t too worried that the characters I liked were going to end up dead even when Damon was standing on a landmine, although not all of the team makes it through til the end of the film. There were a couple of times when I was a little upset at them for feeling the need to spell out the joke. There’s one scene where one character says he’s surprised the other can read a certain piece of paper. The other guy says it’s in English. The first guy says, “I know.” I wish it had stopped there instead of going on to add “I just didn’t know you could read.” A silly complaint maybe, but it happened several times. The joke was funny, we didn’t need the explanation.

Overall, it was fun – a bit of history, a couple laugh-out-loud moments, a rather weak attempt at a romance subplot, but you’re rooting for these guys. At least I was. It could also lead to some good discussions about the value of art and about WW2 in general. And it’s a good war movie for those of us who don’t like war movies.

You might even say it was a caper– an amusing or far-fetched story, esp. one presented on film or stage. (We were talking about capers at dinner afterward.)


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