Why Clue is the Greatest Movie Ever Made

Movies come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are action packed blockbusters, and others are quiet indie films.  There are tragedies and comedies and blends of the two.  There are so many genres of film, and subgenres, and sub-subgenres.  In fact, there’s at least twelve movies made for any given aspect of society.

It’s because of this vast diversity that it’s somewhat difficult to compare films across all genres.  If that’s not enough, how good a movie is perceived to be is completely subjective, which makes rating them all but impossible (how do the Oscars successfully pull it off, year after year?).  However, despite these obstacles, I am here to share with you the greatest film of all time.  Is it Citizen Kane?  The Godfather?  Are you ready?

It’s Clue.

I mean, it’s in the title of the article, so I don’t know how suspenseful that was supposed to be.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Clue?  Really?  Yes, really.

Clue was released in 1985, and is based on the board game of the same name.  How could such a ridiculous premise  make for a good movie?  I mean, look at the atrocity that is Battleship.  Games don’t make for good movies, so how is Clue any different?  Why is it any good at all, much less the best movie in the history of movies?

Here’s why:

The genre:  First off, it’s a comedy.  Any movie based on a game that takes itself too seriously is probably going to be garbage.  Super Mario Bros., Double Dragon, Street Fighter, Bloodrayne, etc.  Yeah, I know those are based on video games and Clue is a board game, but honestly, there really aren’t that many movies based on more traditional table-top games.

The fact that it’s a comedy gives it the opportunity to craft a story based on the absurd premise that someone was murdered in a group setting, with no one knowing who did it, and then mine it for all the comedy gold that’s usually associated with a murder mystery.

It has slapstick comedy, because minor violence is funny.  It has black comedy, because major violence is funny.  It’s also packed full of clever dialogue – one liners, two liners, three liners, and wordplay, in addition to the constant banter among the characters.  The best part?  It’s relevant.  There are few throwaway jokes, but even the silliest exchanges actually move the plot forward.

It’s also a mystery.  With all the hilarious hijinks going on with characters verbally sparring and people getting hit, it’s easy to forget that there’s a murderer in the house ready to strike at any moment.  But over the course of the movie, the danger escalates until the the spectacular ending in which the killer is finally exposed.

Multiple endings:  It has multiple endings!  That’s incredible!

When making Clue, three different endings were filmed, and the entire movie is constructed in such a way that makes each ending equally plausible, which is actually pretty brilliant in and of itself.  For the theatrical release, theaters were given either the A, B, or C version of the ending, so the audience in one theater might not necessarily have the same experience as the audience in another. 

Sure, it’s gimmicky.  No, it didn’t help Clue at the box office, because it grossed just shy of the $15m it cost to make it.  But it is incredibly cool.

Nowadays, any version you see, whether it’s on Netflix (sadly no longer available for streaming at this time, but I have faith it’ll be back!), DVD, or the ancient sacred technology known as VHS (look it up, kids), will have all three endings, each of which play out as possible scenarios.

The cast:  Clue features an ensemble cast, each member of which portrays a unique, interesting, and funny character. 

Tim Curry, arguably the most famous member, leads the show as the dryly sarcastic butler, Wadsworth, who happens to have the most butlery name that ever butlered.

Christopher Lloyd (the actor who played Doc Brown, not the screenwriter, although I don’t know why that needed clarifying) is the lecherous Professor Plum, a former psychiatrist.

Michael McKean plays the mild-mannered Mr. Green, a closeted homosexual working for the State Department.  He gets slapped a lot.  No, I mean a lot.

Madeline Kahn is Mrs. White, whose latest husband, a nuclear physicist, was mysteriously murdered, with her previous husband suspiciously disappearing.

Leslie Ann Warren is Miss Scarlet, who runs a brothel out of Washington DC and almost exclusively speaks in double entendres.

Martin Mull plays Colonel Mustard, a military man (obviously) working at the Pentagon, who doesn’t really appear to be all that bright.

Eileen Brennan is Mrs. Peacock, a senator’s wife who has been taking bribes in return for her husband’s votes.  She’s overly dramatic and she gets slapped sometimes too.

Colleen Camp is Yvette, a super fanservice-y French maid.  While not technically part of the main cast, her character is prominent enough to mention here.

Everyone plays off each other very well, and large parts of the movie have all of them in the same scene, which makes for an interesting dynamic and provides plenty of opportunities for banter.  It should be no surprise at how well some of the performances are, given the actors who portray the characters, but surprisingly, even some of the lesser known actors do an amazing job of bringing these characters to life, and genuinely contributing to the greatness that is Clue.

Rewatchability:  Some movies are good movies, but after having seen them they get boring or stale or just plain unpleasant to watch.  Some movies rely heavily on a twist, which after learning it, makes the movie largely irrelevant.  Or it might make you want to do a rewatch with the twist in mind, but after that, it gets discarded, never to be watched again.  Clue is not like this.

Clue is a great move, and whether you’re watching it for the first time or the hundredth, it’s still a lot of fun.  Clocking in at 97 minutes, it’s not all that long so there’s not a huge time investment either.  It’s the kind of movie that you can put on and just enjoy the background noise, while you occasionally say the lines to yourself.  It’s the kind of movie that makes a bad day just a little bit better, that makes you a little bit happier, or less sad, depending on your state of mind.  It’s the kind of movie that comforts you and entertains you and is your best friend because you don’t know how to relate to others all that well so you escape into – I’m getting off topic.

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Clue is undoubtedly the greatest 97 consecutive minutes of film ever recorded.  If you haven’t seen it, go watch it.  You can thank me later.  Those of you who have seen it and disagree, well, I’m sorry you have such poor taste.  Of course I’m kidding, but you’re still wrong.


 

Tony P. Henderson

Tony P. Henderson is a well traveled army brat who loves comedy and geek culture. After a stint in Los Angeles testing video games, performing comedy, and background acting Tony moved back to Georgia and hasn’t missed a Dragon Con since.

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