I've talked a lot about the influence of nostalgia when reviewing older movies. These movies may not be considered the "best" movies out there, but at some point they become something more. Something that we revere because of the indelible impression they made on us. Movies that grow better with age. Movies like 'Clue.'
Is there a movie out there that's more watchable and more quotable than 'Clue'? Maybe 'The Princess Bride.' 'Clue' is the perfect example of how the healthy growth of one's nostalgia, over time, can create a lasting cinematic impression. Is 'Clue' considered one of the best movies, or even best comedies? Not according to the American Film Institute. 'Clue' can't even squeak in amongst 100 other comedies on their 100 Laughs list. (A list that also doesn't contain 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail ,' who do they think they are?) That doesn't matter though, because 'Clue' will continue to be one of the most watched, most beloved comedies around, because it's funny.
Based on the board game, 'Clue' was directed by Jonathan Lynn ('My Cousin Vinny'). The movie goes into full satire mode right off the bat as Tim Curry, playing the butler Wadsworth, steps out of his car and right into dog crap. A running gag that keeps the first five minutes of the movie full of laughs. A gag that understands potty humor can be funny if treated subtly. Watching the guests sniff the air around Curry as they enter the house has always made me laugh. I know it's coming, and yet, I laugh. Because it's timeless comedy. It isn't constrained by pop culture references. It's a joke that will be funny years from now because we can all relate to that situation.
'Clue's madcap, zany atmosphere is the reason I can watch this movie over and over again. It reminds me of movies like 'Cannonball Run' or 'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.' Only its antics are confined to a mansion, but that doesn't stop the characters from losing their breath running from room to room.
Just like the game, somebody has been murdered at a dinner party. That somebody is aptly named Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving). The house is full of would-be suspects who all had reason to murder Mr. Boddy. There's Mr. Green (Michael McKean), a bumbling guy who can't stop spilling stuff on the ladies; Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), a haughty socialite type with a high-profile husband; Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn), a dour woman who may have killed her past husbands; Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull), a high-strung war profiteer who likes the company of the occasional female escort; Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd), a horny psychiatrist who just lost his license; Miss Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren), a woman who runs a high-priced escort service in Washington D.C.; and finally Wadsworth (Curry), the butler who is running the whole affair.
What follows is a hilarious whodunit, and a movie filled with more one-liners, and more memorable comedic scenes than many of the comedies released nowadays. Tim Curry's performance here is deftly timed. It's his performance, and his wacky out-of-breath recap at the end that really holds the whole movie together.
I love the subtle way 'Clue' approaches comedy. It may seem in your face as the characters scream, yell, and run, but there are subtle jokes and reactions that totally make this movie as enjoyable as it is. It's a movie that I'll never stop watching. A movie that I find something new to laugh at every time I revisit it. A movie, that because of nostalgia, has become cinematically immortal.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Clue' is a Paramount release. It comes in a standard eco-friendly Blu-ray keepcase and has been pressed onto a 50GB Blu-ray Disc. It will play in both A and B regions.
The disc also contains the three separate endings for the movie. There is an option to play it with all of the endings (96 min.) or an option to play it with a random ending selected by the disc. Also, there's the option in the menu to see each ending (A, B, or C) separately, but there is no option to play the movie with a certain ending. You can either play the movie with all endings or a random ending.
Yes! I've seen 'Clue' numerous times on DVD and VHS and can tell you, unequivocally, that this is the best the movie has ever looked. What's great about Paramount's 1080p transfer is that it doesn't look like they've used too much DNR. The film's original grain structure is intact making the movie appear perfectly filmic throughout.
I've never seen so much detail in 'Clue.' I don't ever remember the DVD showing facial details like smile lines, pores, and fine wrinkles, but the Blu-ray does. Edges around people and objects are crisp. Blacks are the best part here. There are numerous scenes with low, or no, light and the blacks are deep and have good depth. They create wonderfully delineated shadows.
Colors are nicely rendered. The rich wood interior of the mansion is presented in deep mahogany browns, and dark cherry wood. The wood grain is visible on walls, floors, cabinets, and bookcases. Skin tones always appear natural. I was really impressed with the look of this catalogue film on Blu-ray. It looks like they took their time with the transfer and made it look the best it could. There is no egregious blocking or banding errors to report either. Overall, anyone who loves this film will no doubt be pleased with how it looks in HD.
On the other hand the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track leaves a lot to be desired. This seems like a movie that would be popular enough, and had enough action throughout it, that it could've benefitted from a surround sound remixing. Sadly, that didn't happen and we're left with a track that does little in the way of enveloping you in the film's events.
The biggest problem with the track is the way the dialogue comes off a bit tinny. There are numerous times where dialogue sounds badly ADR'd or just never got touched up. Mr. Green's introduction on the front stoop (it has a hollow echo to it, even the raindrops sound bad) at the beginning of the film is a good example of how hum-drum the audio can get here.
I couldn't help but wish for a remixed 5.1 track, especially as Tim Curry is running through the great hall from room to room at the end. Imagine his voice traveling through each channel as he frantically describes what happened. It'd be a great track if done right, but instead the 2.0 track features none of that. The dialogue is up front and that's where it stays fighting for its position with sound effects and the movie's score. More could have been done with this disappointing mix, that's for sure.
'Clue' is a comedy classic. One of those movies with infinite re-watch value. A movie that never really gets old. I've never met a person that said, "I hate 'Clue.'" Does such a person exist? If they do, I'm not sure I want to meet them. Because it's almost impossible not to find 'Clue' funny. The video presentation that Paramount has pulled off looks great, but their audio presentation fails to impress. It still comes recommended because 'Clue' is a hilarious movie.