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It’s the not-so-dirty, half-dozen, The Monuments Men offers old-fashioned adventure

Posted on Friday, February 7, 2014 at 12:30 pm

George Clooney;Matt Damon;Bill Murray;Bob Balaban;John Goodman

By Peter Covino

Arts & Entertainment Editor

Take the basic premise of The Dirty Dozen, throw in a bit of Indiana Jones and Ocean’s 11 and you have pretty much got The Monuments Men, a World War II-era film with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett and Bill Murray.
You won’t find anything amazing here, but this is a pretty sturdy adventure yarn (directed and co-written by Clooney) based on the true story of one of the greatest treasure hunts in history — the recovery of thousands of works of art, stolen by the Nazis.
Considering the stellar cast and direction, I was counting on something a bit more substantial from The Monuments Men. But the pacing is lacking, and the film’s most suspenseful moments are a letdown.
But that doesn’t mean The Monuments Men is not enjoyable.
I sort of have a vague recollection of reading or hearing about this (if you remember The Train with Burt Lancaster, it kind of covers some of the same territory). The Nazis did many atrocious things, but some of those Nazis, Hitler included, were lovers of art and it was one of their top priorities to steal masterworks from museums and private collections (mostly from Jews) during the war years.
It is up to Frank Stokes (Clooney) and his pals, mostly art scholars, to get trained for a high risk mission that will take them behind enemy lines in Germany.
While “rescue” films with guys in training for an important missions usually have big, tough guys (like The Dirty Dozen), The Monuments Men has a band of mostly middle-aged guys, who have been sitting behind a desk for the past decade or two, suddenly learning a thing or two about hand-to-hand combat.
You get the feeling that Clooney must be friends with most of the cast members, since everyone seems to get at least one big scene of their own, though Murray and character actor Bob Balaban, frequently steal the film with their portrayed feuding and dislike for each other. Of course, its all for laughs.
While Clooney has had some success as a director (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Goodnight and Good Luck), The Monuments Men is a film with more of an epic feel and I can’t help but wonder what the movie with look like if it was directed by say Ron Howard or Steven Spielberg.

Critic’s rating: B-

Rated PG -13
The Yearling
One of the classic family films of all-time, The Yearling, returns to the big screen and for free at the Enzian Theatre Sunday.  It’s been 75 years since The Yearling, by Marjorie Keenan Rawlings was published. The book also won the Pulitzer in 1914 for its honest portrayal of life in the scrublands of Florida in the 1870s.
Starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman, it is also the story of young Jody Baxter (Claude Jarman, Jr.) and his orphaned pet fawn that follows him around with devotion.
The Enzian has an event scheduled before the 7 p.m., outdoor screening.  At 6 p.m., there will be a major discussion of the book in the Eden Courtyard with Dr. Maurice “Socky” O’Sullivan (Kenneth Curry Professor of Literature, Rollins College), Dr. Jack Lane (Professor Emeritus, Rollins College History Dept.) and several other dignataries and professors.