It’s always a thrill when an item on our endless Required Viewing list pops up in theaters. The latest such delight was one of my all-time favorite movies (#6 to be precise), and the only good board game movie ever made — actually we might be able to broaden that to the only good game movie ever made. Yes. Communism was just a red herring. And we watched Clue. AM, start us off with all the staples: why did I make you watch this movie? How much did you love it? And can you feel flames on your face?
A: For starters, the board game was my first clue that you would love this movie. GET IT? You like board games. And you also love British actors, so that was also a good indication this would be a fave. I will say, I was quite surprised how many people died in this film. I was relying on the narrative from the game itself, in which only one poor soul meets his untimely demise. It does make sense that they’d up the complexity factor for a feature film, and it was so convoluted that you’re not really supposed to follow the action. The comedy here works, especially because I decided early on not to try to solve the mystery, but just to go with the flow. I was also pretty surprised at the adult content of the characters’ misdeeds, because Clue is a child-friendly game, but as I am an adult, it was a pleasant surprise and upped the comedy factor hilariously.
One last reason why Brooke made me watch this is because of the creepy house. I’m semi-convinced that her real desire in life is to live in a giant mansion with 80 rooms and a dumbwaiter. I am a fan of the hidden doors and passageways, but otherwise the house itself wasn’t the place I could picture myself living.
I wasn’t quite sure why you loved Madeline Kahn (outside of the obvious reasons, of course), until she confesses to killing the maid and her iconic line demonstrated why she’s so beloved in this film:
Yes. Yes, I did it. I killed Yvette. I hated her, so much… it-it- the f – it -flam – flames. Flames, on the side of my face, breathing-breathl- heaving breaths. Heaving breaths… Heathing…
Ok, Brooke, fill me in. Did I miss anything about why this is a particular favorite and even makes an appearance in your Top 20 of All Time?
B: My dear perceptive friend, you pretty much nailed it. And yes, I kind of do want to live in a giant mansion with 80 rooms and a dumbwaiter. ESPECIALLY if it has secret passages. But I’ll pass on the cook that specializes in monkey brains. Back when we watched Young Frankenstein, I recall going on about Madeline Khan in this movie, so that realization was quite some time coming for you, but I’m glad you can appreciate her straight-man, dead-pan delivery of lines like: “He doesn’t do anything. He just lies around on his back all day,” re: her dead husband.
My favorite thing about Clue is that it’s a picture that rewards the viewer for multiple viewings. The dialogue and the jokes and the physical and situational comedy are all so dense, that there’s something new to discover every single time. I love that quality in a movie, and I especially love it when there is a juggernaut of a cast doing the thing. The sheer effort Tim Curry puts into his many elaborations on the mystery at hand is staggering. It’s also effortlessly quotable. “Picked up the dagger! Ran down the hall! And stabbed the cook!”
AM, I should very much like to hear who your favorite character is and if you had a favorite set piece or scene. Reveal your secrets, er, opinions.
A: It’s very much a tie between Madeline and Tim. I can’t even tell you now if either of them were actual murderers, but they were both a hoot to watch. Wait! Yes, Madeline killed the French maid. Of course.
I would definitely watch this again to try to follow along with the whodunit, as I only loosely captured the real plot (as evidenced above). And because the butler was my tied-for-favorite, I also can tell you the entire ending (all versions of it) are my favorite. I was starting to worry that literally everyone would die, and I loved the “well what if THIS happened?!” melee that capped off the action. It’s one of those sequences that makes you wonder how much of the filming process was dedicated solely to doing it over and over, or if the actors nailed it on the first take and it only looks complicated.
Ok, as board game movies go, we agree that Clue is a far and away winner, but what about other toy- or game-based flicks? Does The Lego Movie count? What about the Toy Story series? I’ve never seen Battleship, so I can’t comment but I’d love to hear some bad examples and some other good examples of this sub-genre.
B: Right. Let’s make one thing very clear. Toy Story cannot be involved in this conversation. Yes, it stars a bunch of toys, but it is an original work, not based on an existing board or video game property. The Lego Movie is based on a toy property, but I don’t think it falls into quite the same bucket. There are no rules to Lego, but for Clue or Battleship or Assassin’s Creed or Prince of Persia, there’s an existing universe and expectations to be met. Usually, this goes very poorly indeed.
We all know Battleship was a disaster, we have eyes, but to walk you though a slightly deeper cut, here’s the thing about Prince of Persia. The Prince of Persia video games were exceptionally popular platformers that featured some of the stylized freerunning that is so popular today in the Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed universes. That style is very rough to film, and a story rooted in Persian history with video game elements is tough to realistically visualize. I never really played the games, but I saw the movie. Why? Jake Gyllenhaal was the Prince. You fully get the picture, yeah? I’m here to tell you that I remember absolutely nothing of that movie. I mean, I know Jake looked great, that’s a given. But I couldn’t tell you his character name, the plot, or describe even one scene. It was that forgettable. Clue is impressive then, because it works with less flexibility and creates an extremely funny and self aware movie that fully stands on its own two legs.
As is tradition, I must ask you about your favorite look. And, if you were in the film and had to split off with a partner to search the house, who would you want to team up with?
A: You know that I brought up Battleship so you could rag on it a bit, and also, I should have seen the Prince of Persia thing coming as well. Your continued and deep love for Jake forgives all transgressions. Video games adapted as movies are quite different, I’d argue, from board games. Now kids today have integrated media, but in my day (as an Old), things were simpler and completely tactile. Could a movie based upon Shoots & Ladders or Life or Monopoly work? With the right script, I’d argue, yes. Same for any game that has less of a storyline and more of a clear objective. Clue makes it work because it doesn’t take itself so seriously and it already has the benefit of a whodunit plot to drive it. Video games have such a complicated plot and visual design that the world they’re adapting is more akin to adapting a book or graphic novel, as opposed to the simplicity of a board game.
For both look and teammate, I have to go with Miss Scarlet. It’s amazing how ’80s her look is, but I like the House Madame look, apparently. I also think she’d be the best to roam the house with, as the men were being creepy and the women were mostly scared to go anywhere. I don’t want to walk into dark rooms with someone who’s creepy or more afraid than me. Brooke, your favorite look/teammate, and please do weigh in on my above musings about the relative difficulty of board game-to-film adaptations.
B: You know, it’s funny you should bring up Monopoly. I’m pretty sure Ridley Scott has been threatening to make a movie based on that game for some while. I would argue that any movie about people getting drunk and stupid on too much money is Monopoly, just like any family drama, or “whoops, I’m pregnant” movie is Life. I would be quite surprised if Candy Land is never made into a vibrant children’s movie.
I will borderline buy-in to your Old rage on this one. BUT, all of that freedom should inspire creativity. Then again, the Ouija movie was a disaster by all accounts, so maybe Clue is the only nice board game thing we’ll ever get. Let me float an idea at you. Adapt Game of Thrones Risk … oh, right. That game is good because it is a series of involved books that morphed into an involved show that begat an involved game.
I hate to be boring here, but I too am fully on Team Scarlet here. She’s fierce, she takes zero shit and she keeps a level head through all of the shenanigans. I love that she throws everyone else in the house utterly off their game. Most of the men are bowled over by her beauty and sex appeal. Wadsworth is threatened by her intellect. And the woman don’t know if they should be more amused or annoyed. Count me in.
I really should have asked this last round, but of all the elaborate rooms we see in this eerie house, which would you most want to hang out in? I am all about that Library, naturally.
A: Scarlet is the best, so it’s not surprising that we concur! I do have one small qualm with your take on Life. I sometimes played and ended up with a carful of children (sometimes jammed in the middle of the other pink and blue pegs), but there would be the rare time in which I’d be a doctor and no children and have all the money and win the game! Is that how real life works? Probably?
The Library was quite cool, but I also really liked the Kitchen. The fact that it had a secret passage in the walk-in freezer only adds to the appeal, despite the fact that it was one of the many rooms in which someone died. My actual first-place choice is to not have to go into this house, but if you’re forcing me to pick one, Kitchen it is!
B: Well, AM, it seems you have this all sorted out. But riddle me this: Was communism really just a red herring?
Next time we’ll be sticking to the cult classics. Annemarie is going to learn a lot about soap …