Dissecting The Monuments Men

The_Monuments_Men HeaderLauren:  World War II has always been a strong source of inspiration for the movie industry, so it’s almost surprising that The Monuments Men is able to bring a new side of this war to light.  It’s definitely an interesting aspect of this war, I just don’t know if this movie is what it needed.

As someone who studied art history throughout my years in college, watching this group of handsome men go into the war to save precious works of art from destruction and/or theft at the hands of the evil Nazis is its own type of superhero fantasy.  Suffice it to say, the subject matter this movie takes on is incredible, and I can’t wait to research more about this effort.  Did it make the best Hollywood movie, though?  Not so much…

Zac: The premise is great, even if George Clooney lays the message on thick, and I think it sort of works as a movie. The film is very episodic, to its detriment as a whole, but it is full of fine moments throughout. I was never bored, I loved the cast, but I do think there is a better movie somewhere in here. All that said, I am positive on the film.

While this film is miles better than Leatherheads, I still feel like comedy isn’t Clooney and Heslov’s strong point. Both of their attempts at writing comedy have been set in this time period and they don’t seem to have an ear for the humor or have the ability to modernize it. That’s not to say the film isn’t funny, the actors are too good, and the majority of the humor comes from their chops, not the  script.

Clooney’s talents shine elsewhere; there is some solid tension and drama, but I think the biggest misstep is the completely pointless romantic subplot the shove on Ms. Blanchett.

Lauren:  The humor fell flat for me in most instances, and a lot of the time I think I was just partially laughing because Bill Murray has a great face.  This made it hard for me to be comfortable with the tone of the film because in many instances it was going for something lighter, which I would have definitely approved of overall since we’re not dealing with concentration camps or anything, but the inclusion of some more serious moments and the need to remind us how we already feel about Hitler (who they refuse to show, to my annoyance) kept forcing these elements of drama that just didn’t work for me a lot of the time.

Except Bill Murray’s shower scene.  I never thought I would be able to say that I enjoyed a Bill Murray shower scene…

However, it’s not the tone that pushes me towards saying that this movie doesn’t really work in this form so much as just what Zac says about it being episodic.  There just wasn’t a flow to it as we jumped around between the broken up group.  We had to connect to the characters in order to care about what happens to them, with each one or two people getting a throw away scene prior to the stolen art discoveries (including the Blanchett romance mentioned above) that were supposed to suffice.  In actuality, I just cared because of my prior feelings about the actors, and this is what I assume the movie was going for.

Maybe next time this group of guys can just narrate a documentary for me on the subject.

Zac: I thought the tone of the film walked a fine line and succeeded for the most part, even if it wildly changed its tune in a matter of cuts. Like I said, the dramatic stuff worked for me and I think its shortcomings were in depth of drama and not the delicate tone. I think the meet cute comebacks for all of the villains might be a bit much, but the film’s awkwardness almost feels like it comes from historical adherence. Is it so broken up because Clooney and Heslov wanted to stick to history? Is that an excuse to not get to know the characters better? Of course not. In hindsight I am kind of bummed that we get introduced to all of these guys in a montage. All of a sudden these guys are in England and we barely know them, no matter how strong the actors playing them are.

But again, I still enjoyed the ride, warts and all.

Lauren: Warts are gross.

Zac’s Final Grade: B-
Lauren’s Final Grade: C

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