Should I Watch It? – The Monuments Men (2014)

Lots of expensive people and things.

When you combine World War Two with Ocean’s Eleven Ocean’s Twelve, you come up with something resembling The Monuments Men. This is not to say the movie is bad, but it is also not to say it is great. As a fellow moviegoer adeptly remarked, the film predictably reveals that the story of art-hunters tracking down pieces stolen by the Nazis does make for “a better story than movie.” Watching the images of the actual Monuments Men flash across the screen, I was reminded of how truly incredible the story Mr. George Clooney depicted was, men risking their lives amidst the thousands of others, doing so in an effort to preserve the world’s culture or achievements. Before I begin to ramble on about the movie, let’s get down to the hard-hitting questions.

Should I pay to see it?

Again, I do not mean to condemn the film, as I was certainly entertained, but I would hold off on shelling out the money necessary for a trip to the theater. The movie seems perfect for an OnDemand or Netflix viewing down the road, but save the money and the trip. Along with the Ocean’s movies, this one will go down as a highly watchable, not terribly memorable piece. Clooney breathes interesting messages into the script, especially in the moments his Frank Stokes semi-narrates, regarding art and culture and their importance as time wears on, but there is nothing here begging to be seen before the movie leaves the big screens.

These two bring the kind of entertainment that can be enjoyed from the couch.

Should I see it with a date?

The Nazis don’t get the ending they want in this one, but unless your date sympathizes with them you should be safe. Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and the rest of the cast obviously enjoy working with each other, and this makes for delightful interactions, including a pleasant surprise in the form of the chemistry between John Goodman and Jean Dujardin. The story dips into the inevitable sacrifices of war, touching upon the grief with which even militant art-hunters must grapple, but mainly the story is light and playful, focusing more on the characters than the war and its horrors. Again, there are probably better options at the theater (especially with VDay fast approaching!), but Monuments will make for solid post-theater date fare.

A couple of real-life Monuments Men.

Should I watch it with my mom?

Not too much to add from the section above, though chances are your mother loves Clooney, Damon, Murray, and Goodman at some level or in some form, so the chances of her finding entertainment are probably even higher than those of a date. Clooney still has his charm, Murray and Goodman their gentle goofiness, and Damon his willingness to be the butt of the joke. I found it hard to tell exactly what message Clooney wanted to send, and how he was relating this story to larger ideas about the nature of art and culture. That being said, even if he did not clearly send the message he wanted, Clooney still gives us an entertaining movie with a solid script, lovable cast, and incredible scenery — from Bruges (BRUGES!) to Paris to Bavarian castles.

Redemptive smiles to be found in time of war.


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About Author: Brian McMahon

Brian is an author and co-founder of GoodWillWatching. He likes to write and is deathly afraid of bugs. His Great American Novel, not yet titled or existent, will be shocking the world some time or another. He once stayed up for two days straight because of poor information regarding the arrival of Halley’s Comet, which was not due for approximately 57 years. You can follow him @bm1313 on Twitter, or in real life from a safe distance.