Art worth dying for

The Monuments Men Columbia Rating: PG 118 minutes

The Monuments Men is a pleasant, enjoyable, but curiously unaffecting movie. It is based on the real story of a group of art historians and artists tasked with saving art, including sculptures and even buildings, in danger of being destroyed by the Nazis during the Second World War. And yes, a couple of them even died doing it, according to this Hollywoodization of the events.

It’s not often you get a high powered cast like this together. It includes George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Hugh Bonneville (from Downton Abbey) and even Cate Blanchett as a Parisian who knows what the Germans are doing. There are some dramatic sequences, a little bit of wartime humour and even a shade of romance, although it’s hard to believe Damon turning down a night of passion in Paris with Blanchett.

The script lets down the story and the actors. While many individual sequences work very nicely, there is no overall cohesion here. It’s more a series of vignettes combined with pro-American jingoisms and blatant attempts to tug your heart strings. For example, the scene where Bill Murray is having a shower and buddy Bob Balaban plays a record of Murray’s family wishing him Merry Christmas over the camp PA system.

Clooney also directed, co-scripted and co-produced with Grant Heslov, but considering the acting talent involved and an intriguing, but little known story, this should be a much better movie. One reviewer described it as Ocean’s Eleven meets The Dirty Dozen.

Rating: three deer out of five

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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.