Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Inexplicable Movie Review: Clue

I touched upon this briefly with my Chevy Chase entry yesterday, and the lovely Sadako from Dibbly Fresh offered some support for my opinion, but I'm a big fan of the movie Clue. Released in 1985 to little fanfare, a surprisingly good cast headlined by Christopher Lloyd (Professor Plum), Martin Mull (Colonel Mustard), Michael McKean (Mr. Green) and Tim Curry (the butler) spices up the proceedings.

The plot of the movie is based vaguely on the popular board game. All the characters and weapons from the game are in the movie, with the additions of a butler, a foxy maid, a cook, a cop, a singing telegram, and the characters' host, Mr. Body. Of course, the game is just a game, so the movie invents the idea that they're all being blackmailed for various misdeeds by Mr. Body.

These misdeeds range from the heinous to the silly and funny. Specifically, Mr. Green is being blackmailed because he's gay, which lends itself well to several 1980s style jokes. The plot itself is very contrived, as seemingly everybody is connected to everyone else like it's a god damn Agatha Christie novel, but the strong work of the actors keeps things fun.

However, a gimmick no doubt killed the film at the box office. See, the creators had the great idea of giving the film three different endings, with only one being the “real” ending. Therefore, to fully experience the film, you'd have to watch it three times. However, the only difference between the broadcasts was the five to 10 minute ending segment, meaning you'd pay three times for 15 to 30 minutes of extra content. (In 1985 dollars, this was about $12, but still, time is money!)

This “special feature” probably hurt the film's take, but it gives Clue an odd, campy sort of replay value. In VHS, DVD and television airings, all three endings are now tacked on at the end and differentiated by cue cards. I first saw the movie on Comedy Central around the turn of the century, when DVDs were still sort of rare. As a result, every time it came on I felt like I was watching something special and different. For similar reasons, I loved when Hulk Hogan broke the fourth wall in Gremlins 2 and shouted at them to resume the movie. (Also, Hulk Hogan is cool, brother!)

The Clue movie picture comes from this pretty good blog about... Only Good Movies. The Hulkster picture is from this blog reviewing American Gladiators.


  1. I am a huge fan of this film. I happened to watch it again earlier this year with a friend who did not yet watch it and it still holds up. My buddy liked it but thought it was too predictable, and I think if you try think too much ahead in this film that it loses the charm of Clue because of how crazy it gets with the characters trying to think things through.

    I saw Gremlins II, and Hogan's appearance in it is classic! I remember in Hogan's first awful autobiography (both are not that good at all) him saying he regretted doing it because he did not get to meet Spielberg because the scene he was in was shot by the assistant director instead and the only reason he signed on for it was to meet Spielberg.

  2. Gruel, he thought it was predictable? haha, That's an odd instinct for him to have. If anything, the "true" ending of the film relies on everyone being interconnected in a way that you couldn't possible guess.

    I've read one of Hogan's autobiographies, and yeah, it wasn't that swell. He didn't really go into enough detail on anything - it was all just quick little bursts and paragraphs. I think I still have that book somewhere, maybe I should review it at some point.

  3. Thanks for the shoutout!

    I love this movie so much. I agree that you can't think too much ahead--what makes it great is the characters. And the actors. And all the weird lines. "Mrs. Peacock was a MAN?!" "I'm going home to sleep with my wife!" Love it!

  4. It's campy as hell for sure, but still rather entertaining.

  5. Sadako, yeah, I love that line from Mr. Green at the end of the film. Tim Curry's campy overacting in that movie is also priceless, like a PG / PG-13 version of Rocky Horror.

    Matt, totally agree. And also, I'll have a World Cup posting tonight.


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