A team of art historians is sent to the allied front in the latter stages of World War II to try and recover the art treasures looted by the Nazis before they are either destroyed or appropriated by the advancing Russian army.
The idea behind The Monuments Men had a lot of potential as drama about the ideology of the Nazis and their book burning, cultural appropriation and their treatment of the Jews as a disposable commodity to be exploited and exterminated. Disappointingly, the lighthearted tone eviscerates any opportunity for serious, thought provoking commentary and the events of the war are used as little more than a backdrop, producing something that resembles a cross between Ocean’s Eleven and Dad’s Army. Despite an excellent cast, each of the characters are given little screen time during the extremely episodic and shallow plot, meaning that we never connect with any of them and George Clooney’s direction consistently prefers weak comedy and schmaltz to anything meaningful or dramatic.
There are a couple of nice scenes and the likes of Clooney, Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett keep it mildly entertaining throughout, but The Monuments Men just serves as a reminder of what might have been if it had been done properly.