Clue

Movie Information

The Hendersonville Film Society will show Clue at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 21, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
Score:

Genre: Comedy Whodunit
Director: Jonathan Lynn (Nuns on the Run)
Starring: Tim Curry, Eileen Brennan, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Martin Mull
Rated: PG

Yes, it’s the movie based on the board game. And that isn’t the only gimmick Clue (1985) features. It also boasts three different endings—or, in other words, three different solutions to the mystery at hand. At its release, which ending you saw depended on which theater you went to. That’s a neat trick, but it tells the savvy mystery fan that the mystery isn’t much and can’t be solved fairly by piecing together the clues. That also resulted in a good deal of negativity in 1985, but time has been rather kind to the film. All three endings will be shown by the Hendersonville Film Society.

No, it’s not a good movie, but it’s a good-natured one. All in all, it plays like a less witty knockoff of Robert Moore’s Murder by Death (1976)—a film that frankly succeeds more on star power and flashes of wit than anything else. It even rather looks like Murder by Death, though that could be put down to the fact that there’s only so much you can do with the look of an old-dark-house mystery. The setup, on the other hand, is drawn—as is that of Murder by Death—from Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (which she pretty much pilfered from the largely forgotten 1930 novel Invisible Host). At best, it serves as a workable springboard. The problem with the premise as a springboard is that it’s a springboard to a film that far too often confuses loud and frenetic with funny. Mostly, it’s mildly amusing—apart from the singing telegram girl, which is very funny (and gratifying).

However, the film does provide Tim Curry with the best role of his career outside of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)—which is actually referenced once in his cry of, “Coming!” Curry seizes the opportunity the film affords him and makes the most of it. And the most he makes of it is very good indeed—assuming you like Tim Curry. And if you do, he’s reason enough to see Clue, and that’s not something that can be said of too many of his non-Rocky Horror films.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

11 thoughts on “Clue

  1. Dread P. Roberts

    Mostly, it’s mildly amusing—apart from the singing telegram girl, which is very funny (and gratifying).

    Yes, indeed. I love that scene.

    And the most he makes of it is very good indeed—assuming you like Tim Curry. And if you do, he’s reason enough to see Clue, and that’s not something that can be said of too many of his non-Rocky Horror films.

    Poor Mr. Curry. I’ve always really liked him as an actor, but he just never fully took off the way I wanted him too – which I choose to blame on bad agents getting him roles in bad movies. I use to think that it would be great if Burton would use him in his movies. Oh well, it would seem that it’s too late now.

    What about The Hunt for Red October (1990), The Three Musketeers (1993), and Muppets Treasure Island (1996)? They might not be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I’d say that they at least pass as amusingly fun – even if Muppets Treasure Island is really best under the influence, with that annoying kids singing parts muted.

  2. TonyRo

    There’s a list of movies that would play on repeat in Hell for me….this is near the top. An awful movie made worse by the legions of people who “remember” it being awesome. Boardgames are one property that don’t need to be movies.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Poor Mr. Curry. I’ve always really liked him as an actor, but he just never fully took off the way I wanted him too – which I choose to blame on bad agents getting him roles in bad movies

    Maybe, but it might have something to do with his desire to get away from his Rocky Horror image, which is quite impossible. I’m not even clear why that was (is?) an issue for him. (I’m assuming it’s was, since he’s appeared at at least one Rocky Horror convention.) Did he not want to be perceived as gay? (Is that why he turned down the Hugo Weaving role in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert?)

    I use to think that it would be great if Burton would use him in his movies. Oh well, it would seem that it’s too late now

    I don’t see why it couldn’t still happen, though I’d have thought Burton would have used him by now had he been so inclined.

    What about The Hunt for Red October (1990), The Three Musketeers (1993), and Muppets Treasure Island (1996)?

    Well, the only one of those I’ve seen is the first and I have only a vague memory of it.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Boardgames are one property that don’t need to be movies.

    Oh, I don’t know. I can’t see that it’s any worse than basing a film on toys. Then again, I don’t think Clue is awful, though I suspect that part of its current general appeal stems from the (to me) utterly mystifying nostalgia for the 1980s.

  5. Ken Hanke

    I would advise against you clicking on the below link, seeing as how it is likely to cause irreparable depression, over the state of humanity. But then again, how can you resist (muahahah!).

    I’m kind of intrigued by the idea of a Gore Verbinski version of Clue and amused by the idea of a film of Candyland. I’ve gotten to a point where I kind of cringe at the prospect of any Ridley Scott movie. I guess Michael Bay never saw any of those Witchboad movies. What I don’t understand is why no one wants to make an Uncle Wiggly movie (of course, those were books before they became a board game).

  6. Dread P. Roberts

    Maybe, but it might have something to do with his desire to get away from his Rocky Horror image, which is quite impossible. I’m not even clear why that was (is?) an issue for him. (I’m assuming it’s was, since he’s appeared at at least one Rocky Horror convention.) Did he not want to be perceived as gay?

    Now that you mention it, I don’t know why, but I never really thought about any of that. Whether it’s true or not, it is an interesting observation.

    I’m kind of intrigued by the idea of a Gore Verbinski version of Clue

    Me too. I’m hoping for some great set designs. And they damn well better have some really good secret passageways if they want my money.

    …and amused by the idea of a film of Candyland.

    This could go either way, but Enchanted turned out to be a whole lot better than I expected (for the most part), so Kevin Lima’s name as director is somewhat promising. Although, I really haven’t seen enough of his work to be fully convinced. I’m just hoping it’s live action, and a bit scary (i.e. Hansel and Gretel).

  7. Ken Hanke

    Me too. I’m hoping for some great set designs. And they damn well better have some really good secret passageways if they want my money

    Problem is you’ll probably have shelled out your money to find out! Atmosphere, however, is probably going to be the key to whether this works or not — especially if it’s going to be played straight. The thing that most intrigues me is the idea of a (potentially) more or less traditional old dark house movie at this point in time.

    This could go either way, but Enchanted turned out to be a whole lot better than I expected (for the most part), so Kevin Lima’s name as director is somewhat promising. Although, I really haven’t seen enough of his work to be fully convinced. I’m just hoping it’s live action, and a bit scary (i.e. Hansel and Gretel).

    Well, as someone who used to play the game as a young child (yes, it’s that old), I’d say a scary element wouldn’t be in keeping with the game itself, though I wouldn’t object to it. If memory serves, there’s not much to Candyland and they’ll have to do something. The things that are wrong with Enchanted have more to do with the script than the direction, so that’s encouraging. The screenplay is slated to be written by Etan (or Ethan) Cohen (not to be confused with the Coen brother), who had a hand in the screenplays for Idiocracy and Tropic Thunder, but was also involved with Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.

  8. Boardgames are one property that don’t need to be movies.

    I think they could serve as creative springboards, just like comic books, video games or other kinds of toys can.

    Not that it’s a good film, but The Mutant Chronicles was based on a board game/role-playing game, and it certainly had potential to be more than it was. And there’s always Jumanji as a model for how a board game film could work. Not to mention getting all abstract with the concept and doing something like Alice Through The Looking Glass does with chess.

    Now, if only I could finish this script for Jenga: The Movie.

  9. Ken Hanke

    I think they could serve as creative springboards, just like comic books, video games or other kinds of toys can

    I don’t disagree — and at least the first film (and I’m actually okay with the other two) of The Pirates of the Caribbean is cause to add theme park rides to the list — but I haven’t seen the toy that made a good transition.

    Now, if only I could finish this script for Jenga: The Movie

    Each moment an eternity of suspense!

  10. Slacker Spice

    “Did he not want to be perceived as gay? (Is that why he turned down the Hugo Weaving role in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert?)”

    Maybe, though I think it’s just as much about not wanting to be perceived as like Frank (i.e. the promiscuity and the lack of concern about others’ consent.)

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