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Featured Blu-ray Review: Clue

August 3rd, 2012

Clue - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

When Clue came out in 1985, there was a bit of buzz surrounding its release, but mostly dealing with the gimmick. There were three endings shot for the film and each theater only got one, so different crowds saw different endings with different killers being revealed. That's a rather unique gimmick, but sadly it wasn't enough to bring in moviegoers and the film failed to make an impact at the box office. It has since developed a bit of a cult following. Now more than 25 years later it is coming out on Blu-ray. But were the initial reactions appropriate? Does it deserve its wider appeal on the home market? Anyway why the hell do the British call it Cluedo?

The Movie

Set in 1954, the film begins with the butler, Wadsworth, driving up to a New England mansion. He makes sure the place is prepared for the guests. When the guests arrive, they are instructed to use the aliases assigned to them, to protect their identities. Colonel Mustard is the first to arrive, followed by Mrs. White. Miss Scarlet's car breaks down, but she gets a ride from Professor Plum and they arrive a bit late as a result. Mrs. Peacock and Mr. Green get there ahead of them. Once dinner begins, the final guest arrives, Mr. Boddy. After dinner, Wadsworth opens an envelope from their mysterious host, but before he can explain the guests connection to Mr. Boddy, Mr. Boddy tries to leave. However, all the doors are locked, all the windows are barred, and there are two very angry dogs outside waiting for anyone who manages to make it out.

After that escapade, Wadsworth explains they are all being blackmailed, and by the same person. After all their secrets are revealed, Wadsworth explains Mr. Boddy is the one who is blackmailing everyone. He also informs them that the police are on their way and if they tell the police everything, then their problems will be over. If they don't tell the police, he will do it for them. Of course, if they didn't mind their secrets getting out, then they wouldn't have been paying all of that blackmail. Mr. Boddy knows this. He has a counter-proposal. He gives each person a lethal weapon and tells them if they kill Wadworth, then all their secrets will be safe. When he turns out the lights, there's a thud, a gunshot, a crash, and when the lights are turned back on, Mr. Boddy is dead. Now the rest of them are trapped in the house knowing one of them is a murderer.

That's as much of the set up as I'm willing to give. So how is the movie? It is a really goofy farce that spoofs murder mystery stories very similar to the works of Agatha Christie, or really any murder mystery or that story that began with, "It was a dark and stormy night..." The humor is rather broad with a lot slapstick and running around. I don't think this would have worked as a gritty murder mystery. It is based on a board game, so trying to make it serious would have been a disaster. That said, it has been probably a decade since I've seen the movie, and the humor is broader than I remember. Fortunately, it works, for the most part. There's an early dog poop joke that doesn't work the first time and is repeated, which only makes it worse each time. It really didn't set a good tone for the rest of the movie. On the other hand, seeing the characters run back and forth every time there's a scream remains funny each time I saw it, plus their reactions to the ever increasing body count are priceless. There are also a lot of witty one-liners, most of which are rather disposable. You could lose most of them without adversely affecting the plot, but the cast is excellent, so they are forgivable. As for the adaptation element... The murder weapons Mr. Boddy hands out are all from the game and the house is perfect with all of the locations, and the secret passageways. If you are a fan of the boardgame, there's enough here to remind you of the source material, but it will work if you've never played the game either.

It takes a bit to get going, as the film does have to introduce a lot of characters. However, once it does get moving, it never slows down.

The Extras

Sadly, the only extra on the Blu-ray is the choice between watching the theatrical version with one of the three endings shown randomly, or the home market version, with all three endings shown back-to-back. The film is showing its age when it comes to its technical presentation, the audio more than the video. The level of detail is usually very strong with only a few exceptions, mostly in the darker scenes where shadows tend to suck up the details. The colors are strong, while there are no noticeable instances of print damage or digital manipulation. The audio is clear, but really uncomplicated. It's 2.0 stereo. It is a dialogue driven comedy, but it really could have used some activity in the surround sound speakers or a little heft from the subwoofer. Finally, the Blu-ray costs just over $20 on, which is too much for this type of release.

The Verdict

Clue is a fun movie and it has a lot more replay value than most murder mysteries, and not just because of the random endings. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray has almost no extras, the technical presentation is merely good, while it costs a little too much. If it were between $10 and $15, it would be worth picking up. I don't think it will take too long to see its price drop to that level.

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Filed under: Video Review, Clue