Last night I had to scramble to come up with something to watch with the family. We’d been watching The Amazing Race, but that’s over now, so it was pretty open as to what we wanted to shift to next. I’d shown them Charade and To Catch a Thief, and they had enjoyed both of those quite a bit. This time I decided to give Clue a try. It’s always been a favorite of mine, but I’ve learned to never be very confident when recommending a favorite to my kids. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it falls flat.
Clue soared, and watching it fresh through my kids’ eyes, I could see why.
It’s the sort of movie that if it were to come out today, I think I’d give it an eye roll when I first heard the description. Based on a board game, and it’s not even a straight mystery, but a comedy-mystery, instead? Sounds like another money grab. But this is probably the best board game movie adaptation you could possibly come up with. Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn, and Tim Curry lead a fantastic cast. It’s got great banter, laughs throughout, and some light scares thrown in for good measure. (I was stunned to see it only has a 36/100 on Metacritic and a 59% on Rottentomatoes. This is a movie that’s much better than critics initially thought.)
DC was laughing the entire time. She couldn’t stop. Tomas might have been a bit skeptical at first, but he was definitely won over by the end. It’s just a fun movie, plain and simple. Yes, there are some adult themes in the film, but they pretty much sailed over DC’s head just like they did mine when I was watching it as a kid.
The amazing thing to me watching it now is that the movie really shouldn’t have worked. I don’t blame the critics for getting it wrong the first go around. It was the first adaptation of a board game. How lame does that sound? Sure, it had some good actors in it, but it would be easy to be skeptical of it. And again, they decided to take this mystery board game and turn it into a comedy. But they did it so well. It’s not just the character names from the game (Professor Plum, Miss Scarlet, etc.). They have practically everything there. The premise (Who killed Mr. Boddy, where, and with what?), the secret passageways (leading to the correct places, no less), the look of each room. The parquet floor in the hall. The weapons. They were almost slavishly faithful to the game in so many regards. And yet they also recognized how contrived the game’s setup is. Once that’s acknowledged, you almost can’t help but make it into a comedy.
Of course, it wasn’t all rosy. MC (who’s just 6) was too scared, despite my repeated reassurances that the movie was funny. She ended up heading off to watch PBS Kids a third of the way through. (I probably should have done that in the first place, but these days I try to do things together as a family whenever we can. It means MC and DC end up watching things I never would have let Tomas watch at their age, but . . . what are you going to do?)
Other than that, though, it was a great experience. Everyone loved the movie, and it appears to have made the jump between generations with no problem at all. It’s on Amazon Prime streaming even as we speak. Give it a shot with your fam. (And if you haven’t already seen it somehow, you really deserve to treat yourself.) 9/10
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