Video games falling victim to film adaptation are a regular appearance in Hollywood, despite their mixed receptions and low level of interest from critics (most likely due to Hollywood’s obsession with remakes). One film that bucks the trend is Clue, a 1985 film based on the popular board game Cluedo. It’s ridiculous, but it’s good.
In case you’ve never sat down to the original board game before (why not?), Cluedo is essentially a murder mystery game, where you move your characters around the board, and attempt to figure out who killed Mr Black, in which room, and with which weapon.
Clue takes this concept and expands on it, creating a cast of ridiculous characters put in a similarly ridiculous situation, and tasked with solving a mystery before they themselves are targeted next – the central question being who killed Mr Boddy (a wonderfully on-the-nose name).
The beauty of this film is in the fact that it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. The dialogue is funny for various reasons – while not necessarily quotable, you’ve likely seen clips, screenshots, or gifs of the film at some point. On paper they sound awful, yet somehow they play out hilariously. There’s a lot of jokes about how ridiculous the whole thing is, as well as lots of word play, and it all comes together to make the film endlessly silly, but surprisingly funny.
It’s also got multiple endings, just like the board game itself. Yep, that’s right – they filmed three different resolutions to the story, and put them all out there. Originally you only saw one, with no idea beforehand of which you were getting, but now they are available all together in a ‘Was it this? Was it that? No, it was this!’ format. All three are great, and all proceed straight from the story – so chances are, the person you thought was the murderer actually was… in one of the timelines. It’s a genius setup, and one that only adds to the beauty of this film.
Tim Curry stars, and shines in his role at the centre of this murder mystery. He is the focal point for much of the action and entertainment of the film, but that doesn’t take away from the weird and wacky brilliance of the other actors and their characters. There’s a few recognisable faces in there, and plenty of… interesting acting.
For a film based on a game, a genre that is notoriously hard to do right, Clue achieves its aims perfectly. It manages to do what other game-to-movie adaptations do not, which is become its own thing, and not remain tied to its origins in a way that hinders it from being original. It is entertaining, ridiculous, and honestly a great bit of media to watch when you’re bored late on a stormy night with nothing else to do.