Thursday, September 5, 2013

2. Clue

1985; dir. Jonathan Lynn; starring Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren
My views: 25

My family loves board games.  Almost as soon as I could read fluently, I learned how to play Clue, and a little later, the slightly more challenging Master Detective version, which quickly became my favorite game.  I remember one time we were playing and my parents mentioned that there was a movie based on Clue that they had seen in a theater before I was born.  When they told me it had three possible endings, I was confused: how could the clues in the film point to three different killers?  Either it was Mrs. White with the knife in the kitchen or it was Mr. Green with the revolver in the hall: how could it be both?

Eventually my questions were answered when I was about 10 and Clue was on TV.  I didn't really get it the first time I saw it, and I actually thought it was rather scary.  It was hard for me to get past the fact that in the movie, it's not one but six murders - seven in one ending - which I found quite disturbing.  And yet something about it intrigued me the first time I watched it.  I still haven't quite figured out what it was, especially since it's not nearly as good on TV because they cut out a lot of important parts.  But for whatever reason, we started renting it a lot and eventually bought it.  Before 2003, I already had the script pretty much memorized.  I don't know how many times I saw it, but I think it's safe to assume that if I had started keeping track of my movies a year or two sooner, Clue would be number 1.

This movie is a brilliant comedic gem that went almost unnoticed when it was released - apparently my parents were in the minority when they saw it in theaters - but ultimately became a cult classic as it should be.  All of these actors are absolutely hysterical, and the script is incredible.  Though I missed it the first time I watched Clue, I realized quickly enough that it's not really about the murders; it's about how ridiculous people are.  And rejoicing in the ridiculous is one of my favorite pastimes.

My brother was quite young when we started watching this movie obsessively, but he still thoroughly enjoyed it.  He didn't really understand all the stuff about blackmail, but he couldn't stop laughing when Mrs. Peacock beat up a pipe or when Mrs. White described how much she hated Yvette - the latter of which is one of the greatest moments in film history.  The two of us started reciting this movie constantly.  The rest of our family also enjoyed it, though perhaps not quite as much as we did, and the result is that we reference this movie all the time.  Instead of, "I wasn't talking to you," we say, "I was asking Miss Scarlet."  If anyone can't find his or her key, someone has to say, "Never mind about the key, unlock the door!"  If someone says, "Maybe..." dramatically with a pause, the sentence is finished with, "Mr. Boddy killed the cook!"  And, "Oh, who cares?" is always followed by, "That guy doesn't matter!  Let him stay locked up for another half an hour.  The police will be here by then, and there are TWO DEAD BODIES IN THE STUDY!!!"

In middle school, I recited this movie all the time in conversations with my friends and they got kind of annoyed, so later I learned to keep my Clue references in my head.  When I recite other movies, I think of a line or two and that's it, but because I have all of this movie memorized, I end up reciting whole scenes.  I often find the movie going through my head with no idea of what started it.  I realized just how much this movie had penetrated my brain when I learned about communism in school and all I could think of was, "red herring."  Recently, my sister and I had a conversation in which a line from Clue came up, and we ended up reciting the whole scene, after which my sister remarked, "Well, that was strangely involuntary."  So I guess I'm not the only one who recites Clue without realizing it.  One might think that because I have it memorized, I no longer need to actually sit down and watch the movie anymore, but while I do watch it less often now than I used to, I still find it worth watching.  Sometimes I watch it because it's appropriate - it makes a good Halloween movie, and I pulled it out this summer the second I learned that Eileen Brennan had passed away - but sometimes for no reason at all.

The thing I love most about Clue is how all the characters are together most of the time.  Since they are all played by such amazing talents, it's quite entertaining to watch them both in the background and in the foreground.  This is one of the main reasons I've watched this movie so many times: so I can focus on different aspects of each scene.  It still kind of surprises me how unbothered I am by all the inconsistencies I've discovered through my many viewings.  Usually I get really annoyed when movies don't make sense, and Clue makes practically no sense but is still one of my favorites.  But the acting, directing, and script are so amazing and the idea so original that I find myself loving it not only in spite of its flaws, but also to a certain extent because of them.  I think of Clue kind of like an old friend: I don't care that it's not perfect; I'm comfortable with it, it's around when I need it, and even though I've heard all its jokes a hundred times, I still laugh at them.  Maybe this makes me sound really pathetic, but I truly believe that everyone needs a movie or two like that.

Now I only have my most-watched movie left, and if you know me at all or follow me on tumblr you can probably guess what it is, but I'll keep you in suspense a little while longer while I try to figure out how to write about it.