Paramount Studios presents
"I have absolutely no idea what we're doing here, or what I'm doing hereor what this place is about, but I am determined to enjoy myself."- Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan)
Stars: Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren
Other Stars: Colleen Camp, Lee Ving
Director: Jonathan Lynn
MPAA Rating: PG for violence, language, sexual situations
Run Time: 01h:36m:43s
Release Date: 2000-06-27
Genre: black comedy
DVD ReviewIron Rule No. 1 of Filmmaking: Movies based on video games stink.
Iron Rule No. 2 of Filmmaking: The same goes for board games.
Granted, there haven't been that many films that are subject to Iron Rule No. 2, but Clue is one of the films that helped establish that law. This unfunny comedy is based on the classic Parker Bros. board game, but an all-star cast can't rescue this bomb from the script or the lackluster direction.
All the familiar characters are here: Col. Mustard (Mull), Miss Scarlet (Warren), Mrs. Peacock (Brennan), Mrs. White (Kahn), Professor Plum (Lloyd) and Mr. Green (McKean). They have all been brought to Hill House by a series of mysterious letters from Mr. Boddy (Ving) and are met by Wadsworth the butler (Curry), the one amusing character, and not coincidentally one of the few not a fugitive from the board game. Mr. Boddy, it seems, has been blackmailing the entire group, and thus everyone has a motive to kill him; inevitably, he turns up dead. The body count gets successively higher, using the legendary weapons from the game (including the lead pipe).
It is astonishing that this many funny people could be grouped together in a single movie and the result doesn't cause one to even crack a smile. The film gamely tries, but before long descends into pratfalls and even swipes from the Three Stooges (complete with eyepoke). Alas, as much as I like slapstick, this doesn't help. The physical comedy is all done as if by rote, without any inspiration at all. Only Curry's frenzied reenactment of the crimes at the end inspires any amusement at all, and that is almost embarrassing in its broad strokes.
Part of the problem is the leaden script, which is burdened with far too much exposition and far too little wit. Perhaps the intent was to satire the mystery genre; certainly the explication at the conclusion makes very little sense no matter which ending you get. The film's gimmick (three different endings, seen at random, as was the case in the theatre) works against the film. In order to make all of these endings possible, one can't very well have any serious clues made available. The movie thus spends much time roaming through secret passages and doing nothing of consequence.
Frankly, your time would be better spent with the board game.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Paramount gives us its usual very good transfer, though it is a little on the dark side. Blacks are extremely rich, but the color scheme is rather subdued. Only at certain moments is there a vivid color, such as the bright green of the desk lamp. Shadow detail is fairly good. The picture quality is not the problem here.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
|DS 2.0||English, French||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: We get both a French and English DD 2.0 audio track. The range is not very large and there is a compressed feeling and lack of depth and directionality. There is significant hiss throughout, which is noticeable in quiet moments. The sound is adequate, but just barely so.
Audio Transfer Grade: C-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Alternate Endings
Extras Review: The big gimmick of the film is the multiple endings. Before the film begins, Paramount thoughtfully gives us the option to select a random theatrical ending, or the home video ending which sets each of the three endings out one after another. Seamless branching is used to generate the random endings. The switch is nicely placed as Wadsworth shuts off the lights during his reenactment, giving a good place for the momentary picture freeze and hesitation. The transition was quite smooth on my Sony; only the sound of the disc spinning up betrayed the change.
There is a single theatrical trailer, and subtitles in English only. The subtitles are only paraphrases of the dialogue, and do not follow it. The chaptering is mostly adequate, although chapter 14, where Wadsworth explains what happened, is far too long, especially for those wanting to view the transitions to the random endings.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsThe primary point of this film's existence is the random ending gimmick. If you have an hour and a half to kill, this might be worth a rent to see how that works out. I can't in good conscience recommend this movie for anything more.
Mark Zimmer 2000-06-26