THE MONUMENTS MEN: REVIEW – Danny Ocean goes to Europe to save a bunch of valuable artworks from the dastardly Nazis and the dratted Ruskies. For the mission, he recruits an unhealthy looking John Goodman, the guy from the Artist, Bob Balaban and Bill Murray as well as a middle aged Will Hunting.
The acting talent is there. Clooney has directed two good films – Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Goodnight, and Good Luck were both creditable – so he knows how to do it. The subject is interesting and novel. So what went wrong?
First of all, the film keeps desperately wanting to move us, so Clooney and co-writer Grant Haslov keep front-loading the emotion: with inspiring speeches before anyone’s done anything, voice-over read letters to parents underlining explicitly why something is tragic and Christmas carols sung by a daughter, sloppily juxtaposed with the death of an unknown soldier. It’s all a mush of a mushness.
Neither is the comedy as caper-y as the poster sells us, nor as funny. Clooney is genuinely interested in his subject and wants us to feel the heroism of his art historians in uniform. So he keeps telling us this, again and again, and the humor is vaguely apologetic and horribly gentle. Bill Murray does Bill Murray again, so if you like Bill Murray doing Bill Murray you’ll see Billy Murray.
However, entertainment can be gained by guessing with your friends what Cate Blanchett’s motivation is for being such a pain in the ass throughout.
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