The Monuments Men

The Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program, established by the Allies during World War II to protect European and Asian cultural treasures from destruction, deserves a better movie dramatization than this fumbling prestige project from writers George Clooney and Grant Heslov (Good Night, and Good Luck). Clooney stars as an art-conservator-turned-army-captain who leads a team of fellow eggheads into Germany to chase down and secure such stolen masterpieces as the Ghent Altarpiece and Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges. Their mission is treated with a stifling piety, interrupted only by battlefield cliches and labored comedy from the assembled rat pack (Matt Damon, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, and, doing an arthritic Mutt-and-Jeff routine, Bill Murray and Bob Balaban). As a vision of postwar Germany, this has the tidy Hollywood feel of Steven Soderbergh’s The Good German (2006), with Clooney and Cate Blanchett; the latter appears here as a French curator, grimacing through some sketchy romantic scenes with Damon.