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The Westfield Voice

Film Review: Clue (1985)

Literature Mania
Clue (1985) promotional poster.

Based on the board game of the same name, Clue is a mystery and comedy film that was released in 1985. Six people were invited to a secluded mansion where they all have something in common: all of them are being blackmailed. When they realize that the invitee Mr. Boddy was in fact the blackmailer, everybody wants to kill him. Suddenly, the lights turn off and we hear a loud thump. When the lights turned back on, we find Mr. Boddy’s corpse lying on the floor. Who did it? It’s up to the guests to find out before the police arrive.

The film is very different compared to a lot of other 80s comedy films. Most focus on the emotive side of humor where characters would widen their eyes like cartoon characters and contort their bodies to get a laugh from the audience. Think: Back to The Future with Doc or Betelgeuse in, well… Beetlejuice.

Clue is more about the dialogue in that everyone makes fast-paced remarks and snarky comments to each other. It works extremely well for the tone of the film and with the characters, as everyone (besides maybe Wadsworth) are bad people who would gladly kill the others to save their own skin. Its quick wittedness makes for excellent comedy that still works to this day.

The film knows how to utilize their characters to perfection. Not one performance ever overrides the others as they all equally steal the scenes that they perform in. The only time where I would say that only one character was the highlight of any segment would be at the end when the butler Wadsworth (Tim Curry) gives a 10-minute solo performance explaining what has happened. But aside from that, everyone has their time to shine.

My personal favorites would be Mr. Green (Michael McKean) and Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn) as both gave the most entertaining performances out of the entire cast. This isn’t to devalue the other prominent cast members as they all did a great job acting as despicable, but hilarious characters.

Like most comedy movies though, a lot of their greatest hits happen in the first two acts while the 3rd act is left with the scraps. As a matter of fact, the last ten minutes would be a somewhat drop-off point in the quality where its tongue and cheek humor somewhat loses its luster. It’s still an enjoyable experience, but because the film has to tie up a ton of loose ends in the span of ten minutes, it spends more time explaining to the audience what has happened rather than progressing the actual story. It makes the last act feel like a very tedious rewind of what we have already seen, which quickly loses any interest in the narrative as we have to be spoon-fed the entire mystery from scratch. And while the actual ending of the film was comical, it doesn’t save the last ten minutes of boring recap.

Clue is a very solid film with some excellent jokes and entertaining characters. The mansion is a great setting, the music fits with the film well enough, and its runtime is short enough that it doesn’t overstay its welcome (at least up until the very last ten minutes). It might not end on a high note, but the last ten minutes shouldn’t destroy the interesting experience of watching a bunch of idiots try their best to find a murderer and fail every step of the way.

Overall, it’s a lot of fun and if you ever just want to watch a film that can put you in a good mood, Clue is definitely the movie for you. 3.5/5

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