Monuments Men Is Dull as Stone

Clooney's war romp fails to charm critics

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 7, 2014 1:42 PM CST

(Newser) – It's safe to say critics would not venture into a war zone to save the last copy of The Monuments Men. George Clooney's latest outing as a writer/director/star is being widely panned as boring, shallow, and disjointed. Here's what they're saying:

  • The Monuments Men is a "dull slog" that "refuses to give in to the adventure underpinnings of the material," complains Rene Rodriguez at the Miami Herald. "The fact that the movie opens and closes with lectures, complete with slideshow presentations, is not an accident." What's more, it barely deals with "the question at the forefront of the viewers' mind—with all the atrocities that took place during the war, could the loss of life for protecting a statue be justified?"

  • "Sequences of the jocular male bonding we expect from director-star George Clooney collide with grave tales of war’s sacrifice and civics-lesson lectures on art’s cultural necessity," writes Chris Vognar at the Dallas Morning News. "None of it is particularly terrible; small pieces are quite compelling." But it lacks vision, cohesion, and urgency. "The movie feels a scattered as the Rembrandts, Picassos, and other art jewels strewn throughout Germany."
  • Manohla Dargis at the New York Times is indignant on the historical Monuments Men's behalves. "Monuments Men slices off a sliver of a great World War II story and turns it into a lightweight entertainment that doesn't ask you to think too hard," she writes. The real squad was a staggering collection of geniuses. Clooney "turns them into pleasantly innocuous caricatures." They might as well be called Cutie, Goofy, Starchy, Boozy, Frenchy, and Jewish Guy.
  • But Mick LaSalle at the San Francisco Chronicle appreciated the movie's throwback style. "The movie has a certain gallantry and a spring in its step that's retro, appealing, and ever-so-slightly phony," he writes. Its plot is besides the point. "Mainly, it's just a series of incidents, there to remind you of the sacrifices of good people and of the importance of art in human civilization."

Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett are seen in a scene from the Columbia Pictures film The Monuments Men.
Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett are seen in a scene from the Columbia Pictures film "The Monuments Men."   (AP Photo/Sony Pictures Publicity)
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A trailer for Monuments Men.   (YouTube)

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