The Monuments Men
Reviewed by: John Decker
Better than Average
Action War Biography Drama Adaptation
1 hr. 58 min.
Year of Release:
February 7, 2014 (wide—2,800+ theaters)
DVD: May 20, 2014
“The Nazis pulled off the greatest art heist in history. These guys are stealing it back.”
or most people, “The Monuments Men” contains a cast of at least five highly familiar faces. It is a story about a platoon tasked with recovering art which was taken by Hitler’s socialist regime.
The worldviews expressed through story in “The Monuments Men” will not be found morally objectionable to a conservative audience. The enthusiasm to save artwork from destruction by Hitler’s regime is balanced immediately with statements that life is more important than art. Eventually we may find ourselves persuaded that saving art is worth risking lives. This is not so different from risking lives entering space or inventing, or dedicating our time to the preservation of things men before us have worked for. It would be easy to be suspicious in this age of subjectivism coupled with frequent emphasis on symbolism that a story about saving art during such a horrific time as WWII would place its value above life, but that is not the case here and for that I tip my hat to director, writer and actor George Clooney
There is the temptation
of an affair
in this movie. Nothing sexual happens, and there is almost nothing remotely sexual in this film, save some classical nude paintings and nude statues which are not highly emphasized by the camera. However, an inappropriate situation is created when a man attends a lady’s house, putting himself in temptation’s way. Certainly, within the story, there is good reason for him to be there—would we expect any less? His fidelity is honorable in the end. That does not change the nuances of story and the lingering contemplative of a potential affair.
My opinions: I found this movie lightly entertaining, mostly clean, unexciting and inadequately engaging. This treatment of the story is just way too mellow for my liking. For that matter, the sad aspects are not sad enough. This is compounded by a soundtrack which creates awkward moments which detracts from the emotional landscape rather than adding to it. I am not sorry that I paid a late night price to see “The Monuments Men,” but I might have been, had I seen it at prime time, in a newer theater. I would rent it, but not around nap time.
There are a couple of moving emotional moments, but I believe I created them myself, out of my own appreciation for what the movie was attempting to create or should have created. This film did not give the story it was based on enough credit. The scenarios are potentially engaging, but the drama is constricted, and the personalities of Bill Murray
and George Clooney
have a lot more to offer than they gave us.
I would like to say that families can benefit from the enrichment of seeing this story come to life, but it doesn’t do it justice. Matt Damon’s
character was one of the more engaging, but it fell asleep as well. This movie is a sleepy, long-shot version of a potentially exciting story, worth seeing on a rainy afternoon.
Smoke, smoke, smoke. Nearly everybody smoked back then, right? Well, that’s true among some groups. I don’t have a hard time believing that art curators and soldiers were among them. This is historically accurate and subtly humorous in what I’m guessing is an ‘accidentally on purpose’ sort of way—because there is an incredible amount of cigarette smoking in this movie. There is a presence of alcohol as well, though not a lot—and there is no drunkenness.
The violence in this movie is very sedate. There is some shooting, but very little heart racing. At least twice, we see someone receive a bullet wound that results in death. The views are not graphic. They are more along the lines of dramatic scenes, meant to portray some of the heroism, and some of the sadness of the situations.
The Lord’s name is used as profanity, as in G*d-d***, and Jesus is used as an expletive several times. Surprisingly, this actually makes up the majority of profane language—there is little more.
It was rated PG-13 for images of war violence and smoking. My guess is it was more the later than the former. There isn’t much violence in it.
Violence: Moderate to heavy / Profanity: Moderate—“G*d-d*mn” (6), “Jesus Christ” (2), “Jesus” (2), “Oh G*d” (1), “God” (1), “hell” (11), “damn” (2), s-words (6), SOB (1) / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.