Top positive review
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The funniest UNpopular film of the 1980s!
on June 29, 2000
Clue is Paramount Pictures' comedic film rendering of the classic Parker Brothers board game of the same name. But don't let that dissuade you from seeing this one. Although you'll recognize the chromatic character names, unlikely murder weapons, and Victorian mansion settings, tracking down the murderer in the movie version of Clue requires a good deal more than a deck of cards and a notepad. (It's a lot more fun this way, too.)
Involving the talents of seven of Hollywood's funniest funny people, including Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White, Christopher Lloyd as Professor Plum, and Tim Curry as Wadsworth, the requisite butler, the film is guaranteed to keep you laughing. The script is packed with sparklingly witty exchanges, such as this one between Wadsworth and an angry Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull):
Mustard: Are you trying to make me look stupid in front of the other guests?
Wadsworth: You don't need any help from me.
Mustard: That's right!
Later in the picture, as the by-now-blasé guests glance down at the most recent victim, Mr. Green (Michael McKean) updates the count to "Six murders." Wadsworth's grave response? "This is getting serious." And Wadsworth's explanation of "who killed whom where and with what" at the end of the picture is packed with the impersonations, facial expressions, and things not-quite-British that rank Tim Curry among the funniest Britons ever to defect to Hollywood.
Madeline Kahn, too, liberally sprinkles commentaries, both vocal and facial, into any and all situations, the sheer spontaneity of which make one wonder whether or not they're actually in the script. The line in the show which had me laughing the hardest, anyway, was not really a line at all, but rather a high-pitched, yodeling scream from Mrs. White. (You'll know it when you hear it.) And her operatic descant over the guests' chorus of "For She's a Jolly Good Fellow" had me rolling in the aisle.
Another facet of the movie, disguised by the humor, but every bit as important to one's enjoyment of the film, is the maze of leads, lies, and leaps of logic which ultimately culminates in not one, but three possible answers as to "Whodunnit." And here's the amazing part: each of the three endings (I checked) stands up to close scrutiny of the clues provided earlier in the film. From the time Wadsworth verifies Yvette's mysterious "instructions" until the last pull of the trigger, each minute detail is essential to the plot. A word of warning to the dedicated popcorn-munching detective: the guests at this dinner party are all experts at using comedy to distract. While you're busy laughing at Miss Scarlet in the ballroom, a desperate dinner guest wielding a monkey wrench is hurrying through the secret passage to the study, trying to silence that unfortunate motorist before he says too much....
The film isn't perfect-the physical humor becomes strained at times, and there are a very few lines whose comedic and textual value I question. Still, the film bears enough good comedy and old-fashioned mystery, garnished with a sound track that adds just the right spice to the flavor of both humor and suspense, to earn a "five-star comedy" rating from me.