Movie Review: Clue

By Athanasios 07.01.2019 2

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Clue (UK Rating: PG)

Can a movie fail, when it begins with Tim Curry, and a buxom French maid who shakes her, um, 'instructions?' Apparently, you can, as Clue was quite a flop back in 1985, and was massacred by professional critics, with one example being Roger Ebert's disdain for it... who, by the way, would soon worship the highly overrated The Goonies. Did it fail because it was a farce based on a board game? Maybe because it had three separate endings, and specific cinemas would show specific ones? Was it just a bad flick? Thankfully, box office failure doesn't necessarily translate to bad art, which is why Clue soon became a cult classic, with an enormous, and quite passionate fan-base.

Here's how it all starts. Some strange time in the '50s, a strange butler in a strange New England mansion, would receive a strange assortment of colour-code-named fellows. Why? It turns out that all these have been victims of blackmail, and Mr. Boddy, the blackmailer, would soon join their little group to make a proposition to them. After a few minutes, as well as a brief light switch flick later, and the aptly named Mr. Boddy, is lying on the floor - as in dead. Who did it? They all have a perfectly legitimate motive, and they were all handed a lethal weapon, and, strangely enough, by Mr. Boddy. Who did it, then?

This leads to the most crucial thing about Clue, which is how, while everything, from the setting and the almost archetypal characters, to the board game that the film took its inspiration from, heavily point towards a standard whodunit, this isn't one. Yes, the butler, played magnificently by a magnificent Tim Curry, will give the typical, Hercule Poirot-like explanation (and while running like a raving lunatic from room to room), yet the fun here stems not from the mystery at hand, but from the theatrical farce-like comedy, and the subtle (or not) lampooning of the genre's tropes.

More specifically, this is not about who killed who and with what, but about the interaction between the characters. Sure, from the stiff FBI agent, moronic Colonel, and horny Doctor, to the saucy femme fatale, psychotic black widow, and quirky, talkative old lady, these people are simplistic to the point of being cartoony, but that's exactly what makes the mix of all these different ingredients so tasty. Of course, part of the magic here is how awesome of a job the actors have done in portraying their respective roles, which should be mentioned, fit them perfectly.

Every member of the cast is a great actor, but, more importantly, a great comedic actor, with some, like Tim Curry, Eileen Brennan, and Lesley Ann Warren (the prettier version of Susan Sarandon), fitting the movie's theatrical vibe like a glove - without that meaning the rest of the people involved are inferior, with some, like Michael McKean (I didn't do it!!!), and Madeline Kahn, frequently stealing the show, especially the latter, who was the only one permitted a small scene of improvisation (Flames... Flames, on the side of my face), which soon became legendary.

The only weird (very weird, in fact) choice is the actor who portrays Mr. Boddy. Rumour has it that Lee Ving was sort of forced into the whole thing by the studio, and it kind of shows, as his portrayal of the mischievous blackmailer is the least convincing thing on offer. Thankfully, although an important character "thematically," he won't really stay around for long - he is named Mr. Boddy, after all. Moreover, he doesn't manage to ruin the feel-good feel of the whole thing - because, make no mistake about it, this is definitely a feel-good film, despite the morbid theme.

Those with a little behind-the-scenes knowledge are aware of how much fun everyone had while filming this, but the great thing about that is how it's obvious on-screen. In the end, however, the thing that makes Clue so enjoyable isn't just the ingredients or the recipe, but how the whole thing is cooked (by the way, would anyone care for fruit or dessert?). In other words, the director has done wonders here, with not a single second gone to waste, with a pacing that exponentially becomes faster and faster, while the puns never stop coming.

Despite its speed, however, many claim this to actually be a slow flick. In reality, that mainly has to do with how some people expected this to be a more action-packed crime thriller, albeit a funny one. Additionally, this has a unique brand of humour that won't connect with everyone. To give an example, there is a scene where the characters are drawing lots in order to search the mansion. Technically, it's a slow part where no one is talking, and yet, seeing everyone comparing matches (and especially Christopher Lloyd) turns out to be hilarious - or not, depending on whom you ask.

Yes, Clue is a cult classic - and not in the sense that it's so bad that it's good, but in how it won't appeal to just anyone. Luckily for those who will love it, like all true cult classics, it's a pleasure to watch and re-watch, discover new details, and thus increase your adoration for it. As for the elephant in the room, the three separate endings, while definitely the weakest aspect of the whole experience, since these sort of break the pace, and are kind of samey, watching them in the right order manages to work very well, especially since Ending 'C' feels like the "correct" and funniest one.

Now, excuse this humble fan-boy, but he's gonna go home and sleep with his wife *cue Shake Rattle and Roll*

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10
From cinematic flop, to item of pure cult adoration, Clue is a film that becomes better as time goes by. Of course, like all cult gems, not everyone will appreciate its beauty. Luckily for those who will, this is one of the best comedy whodunits ever made.

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I remember the maid the most.

Dragon0085 said:
I remember the maid the most.

We all do Smilie

Can't a fella drink in peace?

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