"If you destroy their achievements, their history, it's like they never existed."
When I heard George Clooney was going to direct a film about a World War II platoon tasked by Roosevelt to rescue art masterpieces, and that Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, and John Goodman were all going to co-star with him, I was sure it was going to win all kinds of awards and was highly anticipating it. Then when the film release was changed to February my expectations for it lowered tremendously, so I wasn't expecting much from The Monuments Men by the time I went to see it. This allowed me to actually enjoy the film a bit more despite the fact that it didn't come close to reaching its potential. It's a slow building film based on a true historic and important event, and the film doesn't stop reminding us of this fact considering it keeps on stating its self importance through the main characters. The film felt forced during those scenes where we were constantly reminded why the mission was so important and worth the human sacrifice. Despite failing in its grand ambitions and never quite figuring out the tone of the film, it's still worth seeing for the great cast. There were also several scenes that stood out in this war picture that included some comedy, but overall the film felt incomplete at times missing something. The word disappointment comes to mind considering how much potential The Monuments Men had, but it was still entertaining despite some of the misfires in Clooney's film.
The script was adapted by George Clooney and Grant Heslov from Robert Edsel's book about the world's greatest treasure hunt in history. Frank Stokes (George Clooney) is tasked by President Roosevelt to form a platoon with the mission of going into Germany and rescuing art masterpieces from the Nazis who had stolen them from their owners (mostly Jewish collectors) for Hitler's collection. Frank quickly froms a team of seven guys consisting of museum directors, curators, and art historians with very little experience in war. The Monuments Men, as they called themselves, was conformed by Frank, James Granger (Matt Damon), Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), Walter Garfield (John Goodman), Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin), Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville), and Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban). Despite their little military experience they began a race against time in order to rescue these valuable art pieces and return them to their owners before Hitler destroyed them all.
There are some fun moments in The Monuments Men thanks in most part to the incredible cast, but one can't help and think about how underused they were. The characters were all very poorly developed and they only served to move along the story. I still can recall several funny scenes that were enough for me personally to watch and recommend this film. It's too bad the movie never manages to deliver the importance of the subject matter despite repeating the message constantly. I don't think it did these men justice for their contribution to humanity, but at least we got to know their story and enjoy a light hearted film about them.