Clue Jonathan Lynn

Clue Jonathan Lynn
Before there was Battleship, there was Clue. In the limited pantheon of board game adaptations, it remains something of a crowning jewel. Light, breezy and self-aware of its ridiculousness, it squeezes a surprising amount of fun from the inherit limitations of its source material. The set-up is simple and yet needlessly convoluted: six characters gather at a posh mansion after receiving a mysterious invitation. They have been given aliases like Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull) and Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd) by their ostensible host for the evening, the forebodingly named Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving). It's slowly revealed by eccentric butler Wadsworth (Tim Curry) that he has instead assembled the group there to confront them, as Mr. Boddy is the man who's been blackmailing each of them for various indiscretions. They are handed those infamous murder weapons and when the lights go out and Boddy ends up dead, it doesn't take Agatha Christie to figure out that all of them had a pretty good motive. From there, it's a series of extraneous characters like the cook and the maid getting killed to increasingly apathetic reactions from the wisecracking, zany gang, who are trying to put the murderer's identity together with limited clues. The cast, including a typically loopy Madeline Kahn as Ms. White, Michael McKean as the apparently homosexual Mr. Green and the sultry Lesley Ann Warren as Miss Scarlett, shoulder the cumbersome burden of keeping things afloat, yet make it all seem relatively easy. Curry's energy, in particular, consistently propels scenes, allowing those around him to feed off whatever scenery he hasn't chewed. The screenplay by director Jonathan Lynn (My Cousin Vinny), from a story co-written by John Landis (Animal House), is rife with one-liners and asides, wisely choosing to play things as manic farce rather than genuine mystery. There is really only one special feature on the disc, unless we are counting a trailer as worth mentioning, and that's the three theatrical endings that can be selected at random when viewing the film or watched separately. It still seems like a rather enjoyable gimmick to have offered different conclusions at screenings and one certainly befitting the inconsequential nature of this kind of story. Yes, it's little more than a trifle, but it's an unexpectedly superior one in light of its origin. At least until they make a movie out of Fireball Island. (Paramount)