December is a bit of dead zone for television — from Thanksgiving to New Years, no channel wants to put on new programming because who is going to watch it? So instead of watching the wasteland that is winter programming, why not watch the cultural masterpiece that is the 1985 boardgame-turned-film Clue (or Cluedo to our British brethren)?
In fact, Clue is the best movie for any season or for any reason. Rainy outside? Watch Clue. Too hot? Watch Clue. Depressed? Watch Clue. Clue is simply the best film for any and all occasions.
Like the board game, Clue is the story of a bunch of people trapped in an old mansion trying to figure out the solution to a mystery: who killed the victims with what weapon in what room? In the board game, to figure out the solution requires the process of elimination. In the movie, it requires a bunch of excellent comedy actors (including Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White, Leslie Ann Warren as Miss Scarlet, Eileen Brennan as Mrs. Peacock, Martin Mull as Colonel Mustard, Michael McKean as Mr. Green, Christopher Lloyd as Professer Plum, and the always amazing Tim Curry as Wadsworth the butler) be as hilarious as possible.
Someone has invited all of them to the old mansion, where it is revealed that a man named Mr. Boddy has been blackmailing them all...and then someone kills Mr. Boddy. Soon, more bodies begin piling up and they decide they have to figure out whodunnit before the police arrive.
For a movie made in 1985 set in the 1950s about a board game invented in 1940s, every single thing in the movie works brilliantly. And that’s all pretty much down to the actors, who are all on the top of their game, including Madeline Kahn, who plays a pitch perfect “black widow” — her previous husbands included an illusionist who wasn’t very good. He disappeared and never reappeared.
In fact, all of the jokes still work, which is pretty amazing and shows just how timeless the movie is — from the “UNO WHO” joke about where Professor Plum works to the “double negative is proof positive” joke that Wadsworth gets in to the line that pretty much everybody gets, “Communism was just a red herring.” But the movie doesn’t just rely on witty one-liners — it also has a deep and abiding love of slapstick.
In fact, towards the end of the film, Tim Curry begins a great sequence where he basically re-enacts the entire film, running back and forth, pretending to be all of the other characters, in what is basically thirty minutes of sheer brilliance, topped off with three different endings.
Yep, that’s right: it has three different endings. On the DVD, you can even select if you want a random ending or if you want to see all three (I would recommend seeing all three if it’s your first time watching — it makes much more sense that way).
The director of the film, Jonathan Lynn, went on to direct Nuns on the Run and My Cousin Vinny, but I still consider his first film to be his masterpiece. Because, honestly, it is simply a film that you can always watch, whatever mood you’re in.
So go on, watch Clue. If it’s your first time or your fiftieth, you can always find time to watch it again.