The Monuments Men: Making history boring

Before I go any further, I want everyone to know that I LOVE history. I took many history classes in college, when our family goes on vacation, I love to stop at historical places and just try to envision what it was like back in the day.

Even when I head south to visit my sons in Georgia, I always threaten my wife that we’re going to stop in south-central Tennessee to visit the James K. Polk Home and Museum in Colombia. Yeah, he was a non-descript president, but he was still a president.

Now, back in the present, I must tell you about my experience last night (Friday, April 25) watching the film The Monuments Men.

According to the rottentomatoes.com synopsis, The Monuments Men is “based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history. The Monuments Men is an action drama focusing on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners.”

Less than 30 minutes into the film, my love for history was really tested. By way of narrative, director, writer and star George Clooney is explaining to president Franklin Roosevelt why he and his group of misfits should be allowed to track down all the art that was stolen from collectors all over Europe and hidden in different places, eventually to be part of an Adolf Hitler Museum. Well, we all know how the war ended and the museum was never, built, but this film chronicles the adventures, so to speak, of Clooney’s character and those he enlists to help him.

I told my friend, John, before the film began that I might be dozing off because he and I and our wives had just come from a wine-tasting place where a Groupon coupon gave us each six samples … and the ladies who served us weren’t exactly stingy with those samples.

Turns out the wine really had nothing to do with the two or three times I nodded off. While Clooney was narrating during different parts of the film, I felt as though it was more his way of giving the viewers a history lesson rather than a plea with the president for approval of searching for the stolen masterpieces. Raiders of the Lost Art perhaps? I’m not a big George Clooney fan as it is, but with his “lectures” going on and on, well, he made history about as boring Friday night as my high-school teacher, Mr. DeJonge, did. (No first names, please.)

Other stars in the movie included Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchett.

Most of the portrayals were OK, but I was looking for more action from Damon, I was waiting for either Goodman or Murray to break out into some sort of comedy sketch and I kept insisting to my friend John that Balaban was NOT Alan Arkin when John kept saying he “did not realize Alan Arkin was that short.” Oh, and when Cate Blanchett is on-screen, she is very distracting, if you know what I mean (wink, wink).

Critics scored The Monuments Men at 33% with fans being a little more tolerant at 50%. I usually side with the fans because I think a lot of movie critics would rather nitpick than gave their overall impression of this movie. But not this time.

Believe me, people, history is not as boring as George Clooney and The Monuments Men would suggest.

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