A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Monuments Men is a fact-based war drama that feels like a cross between Ocean's Eleven and Saving Private Ryan and features some of the same actors. Expect some wartime violence, including some close-range shooting, and scenes with bloody and injured soldiers. Characters smoke frequently and drink occasionally, and there are a few swear words sprinkled throughout the high-stakes action.
What's the story?
As World War II raged in Europe, Hitler and his generals systematically plundered the greatest artworks of Western civilization, sending millions of paintings, statues, and other valuable pieces back to Germany. Based on a true story, MONUMENTS MEN stars (and is directed by) George Clooney as Frank Stokes, a historian who leads his team (dubbed the Monuments Men), a special unit assigned to find and protect the stolen art. The all-star cast includes Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, and Bill Murray as scholars-turned-soldiers who brave the battlefields in search of lost treasure.
Is it any good?
The Monuments Men is jaunty, lively and yes, entertaining, and will appeal to teens who are fans of the big-name actors and enjoy an exciting mix of peril and adventure. Bill Murray and John Balaban might have smaller parts, but they're fantastic as treasure hunters, and deserve their own spin-off.
Nonetheless, the movie subverts its mission of convincing the audience that saving art is a big enough story to keep them engaged. Its tone is dissonant -- irreverent, yet serious. Perhaps it's not serious enough, because this mix almost makes it seem as if the filmmakers had doubts about convincing the audience about the seriousness of their endeavor -- Clooney's character, Stokes, makes speeches directly addressing this -- and hedged their bets by trying to be both tongue-in-cheek and earnest. The denouement feels flimsy, the big quest doesn't feel as weighty as it should. Plus, the film lacks a strong narrative arc, moving the action by following the unit from one point to the other while failing to build up any serious stakes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the moral issue that comes up in the movie. Do you think it's worth sacrificing a your life to protect a piece of art? What value does art bring to society and culture?
What do you think the world would be life if the Monuments Men had failed, and so much irreplaceable art was lost forever?
What's the tone of the movie? Are we supposed to take the men seriously? What would have made this movie better?
- In theaters: February 7, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: May 20, 2014
- Cast: Cate Blanchett, George Clooney, Matt Damon
- Director: George Clooney
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, History
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some images of war violence and historical smoking
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.