- Nov 15, 2001
- Real Name
- Neil Middlemiss
Clue finally arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Paramount and the results are pleasing. A classic little gem of a film which assembles a fine cast of funny talent to run the gamut of word-play and physical foibles over the course of a deadly evening. Though not terribly successful, the film remains entirely entertaining and is one of the finest examples of adapting a non-traditional entity for the big screen. A remake has been on again and off again over the years (with Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski coming close to getting a green light), but somehow I don’t think anything will match the cheeky joy of this now 27 year-old great.
Studio: Paramount Pictures
US Rating: PG (though in all likelihood, this is not the ‘cut’ version)
Film Length: 96 Minutes (with all 3 endings), Ending A = 87 minutes, Ending B = 87 minutes, Ending C = 86 minutes
Video: MPEG-4 AVC 1080P High Definition
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English Mono DTS-HD Master Audio, French/Spanish/Portuguese Mono Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Review Date: August 17, 2012
“In your hands, you each have a lethal weapon. If you denounce me to the police, you will also be exposed and humiliated. I'll see to that in court. But, if one of you kills Wadsworth now, no one but the seven of us will ever know. He has the key to the front door, which he said would only be opened over his dead body. I suggest we take him up on that offer. The only way to avoid finding yourselves on the front pages is for one of you to kill Wadsworth. NOW."
Clue, based in premise and parameter on the Parker Brothers’ board game of the same name (called Cluedo in the UK) is as much an adaptation as it is a loving riff on Agatha Christie mysteries - which themselves were fertile source material for the board game.
On a dark and stormy evening, guests attend a mysterious dinner and are asked to assume pseudonyms. The purpose for the gathering is a secret, their host unrevealed and their evening far more dangerous - and clumsy - than any of them could have supposed. On this evening the guests and staff include the butler, the cook, and the maid, Professor Plumb, Miss Scarlett, Mrs. White, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock, Colonel Mustard and the late-arriving Mr. Boddy. As Wadsworth the butler begins revealing the purpose for the gathering (and exposing secrets), Mr. Boddy hands out gifts to the assembled guests (a gun, a lead pipe, rope, and the other murder weapons from the board game) and suggests that someone take out the butler; the lights are shut off - there is a gunshot, a thud, a scream, a crash - and when the lights come back on - a dead body. Unable to leave and unwilling to stay, the guests must uncover the killer and preserve their dignity.
As a collective movie-going audience we may-well roll our eyes at the prospect of a film based on a board game (Battleship anyone?), but Clue is something entirely special; a delightfully farcical jaunt of a film rippling with sublime comedic talent who embrace their characters with near giddy delight and a prowess of funny that has aged remarkably well. The board game may well have served as the seed, but what plays out is a witty and spirited take on the turns of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot - albeit without the insightful and modest crime-solver on hand to save the day.
Written by John Landis and Jonathan Lynn and directed by Lynn with a stage-play tone, Clue is a brisk and joyfully charming charade. An ensemble piece, the first act is heavily anchored by the brilliant Tim Curry as the Wadsworth, the Butler. His taught British accent and wry smugness run counterpoint to his accident-prone cadence. Eileen Brennan brings a haughty heiress quality to her portrayal of Mrs. Peacock while the legendary Madeline Kahn glides misanthropically through scenes as the dark Mrs. White. Christopher Lloyd is sly and more than a little free with his hands around the ladies as Professor Plum. Michael McKean pulls off the effete Mr. Green with ease while Martin Mull gives Colonel Mustard a proud and oddly impotent quality. Lastly, the lovely Lesley Ann Warren imbues Miss Scarlet with the sultriness and sexiness the name is intended to imply. It is a terrific cast whose comedic timing and bantering interplay earn even the jokes that were telegraphed ahead an easy smile. Almost three decades after its release, Clue remains fun, nearly-clever, and immensely watchable.
Clue on Blu-ray is terrific. Paramount’s 1080p transfer presents a clean image, surprisingly bright colors for the well-lit sets and a dearth of dust and debris from the print. The early exterior shots don’t fare quite as superbly but that is only by comparison to the interiors. Black levels are mostly very good and overall this is a genuinely solid HD release.
The English Mono DTS-HD Master Audio is serviceable – fitting for the film and for how fans have always seen it (little by way of ambient sounds and any real depth). For a film that survives on the quality of the dialogue it is important that the center channel carries the weight of that burden without issues – and it does. It isn’t an exciting audio but quite frankly if you are enjoying the quality of the script the less than convincing claps of thunder won’t hurt your enjoyment of the film.
Option to watch all three endings or have one ending randomly selected.
I love Clue and have watched the film at least once every year. Having suffered through the less than impressive DVD version over the past twelve years, this Blu-ray release is a little revelation.
For all the comedies in recent years that have swung from gimmick premises to R-Rated libidinous and raunchy fun it is genuinely refreshing to recapture something entirely more innocent and simple. Cheeky puns, twisting words, occasional pratfalls and a cast chewing up their characters makes for a wonderful movie-watching experience. Comparisons are often made with the similarly plotted Murder by Death, released years before in 1976. Also filled with a fine ensemble cast (though the stars were bigger), Murder was never quite as snappy as Clue, though which film is better may in fact depend upon which film you found first.
As with the DVD release, the option to watch all three endings or select the feature for one of the three alternates to play at random is available. I have always enjoyed the mania of all three endings playing out myself. I recommend uncovering Clue at your earliest convenience.
Overall (Not an average)