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Monumental Bore

The perfect war story becomes an imperfect star vehicle.

Mar 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 25 • By JOHN PODHORETZ
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Perhaps the central problem of The Monuments Men is that Clooney and his cowriter, Grant Heslov, simply don’t know how to make a genuinely, unambiguously, flag-wavingly patriotic picture. Clooney’s political movie-making, both as actor and director, has tended to feature the U.S. government and its armed forces as, at best, morally compromised and, at worst, villainous. Without that cliché to hold on to, Clooney is on shaky ground, which may help explain why he delivers an odd slam to, of all people, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who, in 1944, actually issued the order protecting artistic and historic sites. Clooney and Heslov have Clooney’s character briefing Franklin D. Roosevelt, who gives the go-ahead to form the Monuments Men. We only see Eisenhower later, in a scene in which the Monuments Men look on with amused disgust as he cynically takes PR credit for the discovery of a cache of German gold.

Well, of course. Ike was a Republican, after all.

John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary, is The Weekly Standard’s movie critic.

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