THE MONUMENTS MEN
The story is as wild as it is (mostly) true: At the height of WWII, a group of concerned intellectuals heads to the front lines to protect art from the Nazis. Toss in a starry cast and a distinguished director (Clooney), and Monuments practically shoots itself—in the foot, it turns out. Instead of Saving Private Rembrandt, the film delivers a jumble of genres: a heist movie soft on tension, a drama that undercuts itself, a comedy fresh out of jokes. It’s like buying a Monet only to learn it was painted by his third cousin Herb.
Which isn’t to say that the movie is a total waste; there is that cast, after all. Clooney, Murray and John Goodman try to inject a give-’em-hell swagger, but the flat script doesn’t help them jell as a crew. Jean Dujardin and Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville fare better with their big scenes, pumping in more energy than their American counterparts, while Blanchett adds icy passion as a French museum curator fighting her own battle with the Nazi looters.
But with so many characters scattered about, Monuments suffers from a lack of cohesion, not to mention its confusion as to whether risking lives for art is worth it. One scene asks us to mourn a Picasso torched by the Germans, only to then reveal barrelfuls of gold mined from the teeth of slaughtered Jews. Thank goodness someone was able to keep their mind on art at a time like that, but I couldn’t. Sadly, despite its excellent intentions, the movie is more like The Monuments Meh.
THE LEGO MOVIE
Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell | PG |
Getting the theme song “Everything Is Awesome” out of your head will be as hard as prying a flat brick off a Lego street. But this film’s sly jokes and go-for-broke lunacy should make up for that. Pratt voices Emmet, a construction worker who accidentally becomes the Special, a savior prophesied to take down the evil Lord Business (Ferrell) with help from rebel Wyldstyle (Banks). The vocal performances are hilarious, and the animation often inspired (the film uses a jaw-dropping 15 million pieces), but Lego sags just as it should be ramping up. Still, I’ll bet you giggle as much as your kids do.