‘The Monuments Men’ history fascinates, while script frustrates

Matt Damon and George Clooney in ‘The Monuments Men.’ Rated PG-13, 118 min. Columbia Pictures, 2014.

“The Monuments Men” follows an unlikely true story of a bunch of art experts, architects and historians as they try to track down masterpieces stolen by the Nazis in the waning days of WWII. George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray and John Goodman headline an all-star cast that meshes well, despite being split up for much of the time.

Since Clooney co-wrote the screenplay and directed the film, it comes as no surprise that his character has the most noble and most blandly heroic-sounding lines. He is also the one who first assembles the team, “Ocean’s Eleven”-style. In fact, the entire movie can be likened to an “Ocean’s” film, except instead of stealing money from Andy Garcia in Vegas, Clooney and the gang steal precious art from the Nazis in Europe.

“Monuments Men” includes more goofy antics than you might expect in a WWII film with a sobering central debate about whether culture is worth more than a few human lives. Though there is much talk about what they must do and why they must do it, there is ultimately not much action involving these men actually doing anything. The history lesson is fantastic, but the film pushes its long-winded morals too hard.

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