There is something very enjoyable about watching a film whose main actors happen to be real-life pals. The sense of comradeship, the chemistry. Films like Ocean’s Eleven, This Is The End, The Avengers… It doesn’t matter what these movies are about because, in the end, it is just about a bunch of friends having fun, so that is what you see.
So a new movie for this genre is The Monuments Men, the real life story of soldiers whose mission was to retrieve the art the Nazis had stolen. You have George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Bill Murray and Hugh Bonneville. And I am saying their real names because I don’t remember at all what their characters’ names were.
My point being that, while the film is extremely enjoyable and straightforward (nobody likes a movie about art like I do), there is no time to dig into their backgrounds, showing a lack of depth. Surprisingly, I was okay with it.
Since the characters are not developed and all the actors portraying them have so much charisma, it is as if Clooney & Co. were telling you the story. They could have had different names and it would have been the same, even though the characters are based on real-life men. Again, the story is fascinating and it is told in a nice, feel-good mood, but Clooney (director and writer of the film) wants to tell the audience about what happened to the stolen art and he wants to show how there were brave men who risked their lives to save it – and why they deserved to be given recognition. Great story, great actors and great environment, but I would say this is a documentary. Or a fictional recreation.
It is a bit like Ocean’s Eleven, with the main difference being that I remember that Clooney’s name in that one was Danny.
If you want to know more about the real Monuments Men after watching this film, read the book it is based on. It is called The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, by Robert M. Edsel.