George Clooney has given us some fine cinema as a director, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” and “Good Night, and Good Luck” come to mind, but “Monuments Men” is a serious misfire by the film’s genial actor, co-writer, director. Clooney has assembled an all-star cast, but the script he fashioned with co-writer Grant Heslov can’t decide what it wants to be: war drama or jokey buddy comedy. The story of a gang of artists, architects, and scholars attempting to save Europe’s great art from being destroyed by order of Hitler in the final days of World War II deserves better. Bill Murray and John Goodman are just a few of the normally reliable actors that seem to phone it in here. Even the great Matt Damon and Kate Blanchett struggle with their scenes almost as much as they struggle with their attempts at French accents. Clooney has quite a few pious monologues that, while deserved considering the tragedies of the war’s victims, seem clumsy and contrived. The music by Alexandre Desplat brings to mind the War Comedies of the early 70’s, like Lalo Shifrin’s score for “Kelly’s Heroes”, and is entirely too intrusive and would better serve an episode of “Hogan’s Heroes”. The one thing that I can say about a film like this, dealing with a terrifically interesting historical subject, is that I can’t wait to find the 2006 documentary “The Rape of Europa”, that tells this story with actual historical footage, or perhaps the 1994 book of the same title by Lynn H. Nicholas.
Rated: PG-13 for war violence
My GPA: 2.2