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(This is my last poem/review for NaPoWriMo, still playing catch-up. Yesterday’s final NaPoWriMo prompt was for a poem dealing with a strange or obscure fact, so I just included a lesser-known one about the famous board game.)


Someone is dead, but all others must stay,
For once his heart stops
And we wait for the cops,
It’s time to determine who made him that way.

Someone is dead, and someone here did it.
They picked a good room
To exact the man’s doom
With one of these weapons, since nobody hid it.

Someone is dead, and Miss Scarlet’s suspicious.
Old Mustard looks nervous,
The maid’s out of service,
And both Plum and Peacock appear most pernicious.

Someone is dead; White shows little contrition
And might have begun it,
Or Green could have done it,
Or maybe Miss Peach (in an ‘80s edition).

Someone is dead; someone offed him, but who?
It’s time to be candid
And catch them red-handed,
For every detail is considered a clue!

MPAA rating: PG

For me, Clue is sort of like The Goonies, an ‘80s film that seems to have developed a cult following out of nostalgia yet I never got to see it as a kid, which is when I probably would have loved it even more. As it is, I truly enjoyed this campy comedy and see why it is considered one of the only good adaptations of a board game.

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It’s been so long since I played Clue that I don’t really remember the gameplay, only the variety of characters, locations, and weapons, all of which are included in its film version. The beginning is a bit too slow, but it introduces us one by one to the collection of fake-named strangers who arrive at a mansion on a dark and stormy night: Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull), Miss Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren), Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn), Mr. Green (Michael McKean), Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), and Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd). (Kellye Nakahara from M*A*S*H also has a cameo as the Cook.) All of them are greeted by the house’s butler Wadsworth (Tim Curry) and are soon confronted by Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving), the man who has been blackmailing all of them and who soon ends up dead under mysterious circumstances, leading those gathered to try to figure out who killed him, where, why, and with what weapon.

How much you enjoy Clue likely depends on your capacity for campiness. My VC, who had also not seen Clue before, wished that events had played out with a more serious tone, but considering the number of plot twists and holes, I don’t think the story could work without its tongue-in-cheek levity. The script by John Landis and director Jonathan Lynn is full of chuckle-worthy wordplay and potent quotables, but it’s also so convoluted that, by the end, the characters themselves are pointing out how ridiculous things have gotten (“There’s one thing I don’t understand.”  “One thing?”) Some of the jokes don’t work (Madeline Kahn gets weirdly tongue-tied in one scene), but I was still thoroughly amused, from the Scooby Doo-like exploration of the mansion as the group splits up to the light black comedy as the body count rises.

Clue is also notable for having three alternate endings, which were apparently handed out at random to different theaters. I can see how that gimmick might have affected some opinions at the time since not every ending works as well. The first one is somewhat plausible, the second less so, but I preferred the third ending, which is the one the movie says “really happened.” Still, it’s a cool eccentricity that heightens its board game connection and makes you pay greater attention on the next viewing.

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I do wish I had seen Clue when I was younger; if I’d watched it years ago and many times since, I could see it being a favorite. It’s silly but knowingly so, and all of the actors are “game” for the fun (especially Tim Curry), even if some of them can barely keep up with the convoluted dialogue they’re spouting. The mystery itself even kept me guessing. I can see why it has a cult following, and given some time, that might include me as well.

Best line: (Wadsworth) “Professor Plum, you were once a professor of psychiatry specializing in helping paranoid and homicidal lunatics suffering from delusions of grandeur.”   (Professor Plum) “Yes, but now I work for the United Nations.”   (Wadsworth) “So your work has not changed.”


Rank: List Runner-Up


© 2018 S.G. Liput
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