‘The Monuments Men’
George Clooney’s “The Monuments Men” is an ambitious action drama based on the true story of a truly great treasure hunt: Toward the end of World War II, an unlikely platoon of decidedly noncombatant museum curators and art historians is recruited to find and rescue Europe’s greatest artistic masterpieces from the Nazis.
It’s a race against time and a mission (nearly) impossible, considering that the art is hidden way behind enemy lines and that the quality and quantity of it are staggering — some 3 million paintings and sculptures.
They’ve been warehoused in a dozen different old salt and copper mines, many of them booby-trapped to prevent just such a rescue as the American team has in mind.
The performances are excellent. Sad sack John Goodman and hangdog Bill Murray provide moving portrayals of their respective characters, with just enough — not too much — comic nuance. The running gag of Matt Damon’s bad French (he thinks he speaks it fluently) works nicely. Cate Blanchett is terrific as the Parisian museum curator whose crucial assistance saved 60,000 pieces. As head of that team, Mr. Clooney the actor is as believably restrained and effective as always.
Mr. Clooney the director, on the other hand, is not so effective, hindered by a simplistic, overly didactic script that tends to Hollywoodize the epic proceedings.
Rated PG-13 for images of war violence.
‘About Last Night’
The original, with Rob Lowe and Demi Moore, has been moved 28 years and half a country away, from Chicago to Los Angeles. That’s the stomping grounds for Danny (Michael Ealy) and his best friend and co-worker in the restaurant supply business, Bernie (Kevin Hart), along with roomies Joan (Regina Hall) and Debbie (Joy Bryant).
A hot hookup between Bernie and Joan leads to an introduction between Danny and Debbie. He has spent the past year recovering from a breakup and she expects relationship failure 95 percent of the time.
They slide into that fabled 5 percent, though, and soon find themselves advancing through the relationship stages, from spending nights and all of their free time together to Danny offering Debbie a drawer in his apartment and (even better) a set of keys and then an invitation to move in with him.
In this sometimes raunchy romantic comedy directed by Steve Pink (“Hot Tub Time Machine”), both couples hit rocky patches. Bernie and Joan quickly go up in flames, with outrageous insults flung within earshot of everyone at whatever party or bar they share, while Danny and Debbie quietly disintegrate.
Mr. Ealy brings his soulful eyes and ability to cede the funny floor to Mr. Hart in almost every exchange. A little of Mr. Hart’s fast-talking, high-pitched routine goes a long way, but he has emerged as an audience favorite and box-office draw.
Although the remake incorporates such modern-day touches as Facebook unfriending and smartphone etiquette, the original seemed fresher. This is two movies in one, the conventional Danny-Debbie love story and the raucous Bernie-Joan tale. More traditional moviegoers might prefer the first but it will be the second that gets people talking. And laughing.
Rated R for sexual content, language and brief drug use.
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— Rick Bentley, The Fresno Bee