The Monuments Men | Film Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

The Monuments Men 

George Clooney's raiders of lost art

Pin It
The Monuments Men - SONY
  • Sony
  • The Monuments Men

Not every war movie needs to be Saving Private Ryan—a searing, dark journey into man’s inhumanity to man at its most inhuman. Yet there’s also something odd about a war movie as, well, jolly as The Monuments Men.

Adapting a true story, George Clooney directed, co-scripted and stars as Lt. Frank Stokes, an art historian who convinces President Roosevelt that there’s a moral imperative to try to save great works of art and architecture from either Nazi hoarding or Allied bombing. And so Stokes puts together an all-star team of “Monuments Men”—including architect Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), art historian James Granger (Matt Damon) and sculptor Walter Garfield (John Goodman)—to help track down stolen masterpieces and save others from the threat of destruction.

The narrative pivots around the compelling question of whether saving art is worth risking lives, a question that various army brass answer with a resounding “no” in their lack of cooperation with the team’s mission. Even as various members of the team try to find redemption—including an alcoholic British officer (Hugh Bonneville) and a French would-be fighter pilot grounded by bad vision (Jean Dujardin)—the central idea remains one about the value of individual lives set against the value of great creative works.

But Clooney mostly ditches that idea for a series of episodic anecdotes, many of them played for comedic effect. When Goodman and Dujardin are threatened by a sniper, the entire confrontation is played for laughs, right down to the revelation of the gunman in a jokey spin on the climax of Full Metal Jacket; ditto the moment when Damon’s character inadvertently steps on a landmine. And when the film does try to get serious, it simply feels forced. Clooney wants an Indiana Jones vibe of rollicking adventure as his crew recovers artifacts from the Nazis, but can’t get beyond turning pages in a whimsical art-history textbook.



George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman
Rated PG-13

Twitter: @ScottRenshaw

Pin It

Speaking of , ,

More by Scott Renshaw

  • Gold Records

    A look at the Oscars' long history of falling in love with musical biopic performances.
    • Feb 20, 2019
  • Film News: Feb. 20-27

    New This Week, Special Screenings, and Current Realeases
    • Feb 20, 2019
  • Tear Down This Wall

    Utah County, get ready for the gray areas of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
    • Feb 20, 2019
  • More »

Latest in Film Reviews

  • Gold Records

    A look at the Oscars' long history of falling in love with musical biopic performances.
    • Feb 20, 2019
  • Human Touch

    Alita: Battle Angel finds some heart in high-tech spectacle.
    • Feb 13, 2019
  • Short but Sweet

    A full look at the Oscar-nominated short films.
    • Feb 6, 2019
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Don't Call It a Comeback

    Steven Soderbergh returns to the big screen with slick heist caper.
    • Aug 16, 2017
  • Old Friends

    Logan's Syndrome finds a filmmaker discovering a fascinating story in his own childhood neighborhood.
    • Mar 14, 2018

© 2019 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation