Welcome to Movie DNA, a column that recognizes the direct and indirect cinematic roots of both new and classic movies. Learn some film history, become a more well-rounded viewer, and enjoy like-minded works of the past. This entry recommends movies to watch after Jonathan Lynn’s Clue.
We’ve all been there. You google “movies like Clue” and you’re greeted with a mosaic of sub-par game adaptations and non-homicidal funny films from the ’80s. Does Google not know? Is the algorithm okay? All you wanted was pun-heavy dark comedies about a murder mystery!
Well, unclench your fists, pals. First-time director Jonathan Lynn’s 1985 ensemble mystery comedy classic — yes, based off the Hasbro whodunnit board game of the same name — has many forefathers. Each goofier than the last.
There is a stark contrast between how Clue was received upon its initial release — it singlehandedly killed the theater gimmick — and how it is widely regarded today. Which is to say: as a clever, cast-driven spoof.
The film follows a group of strangers — or are they — who are brought to a forbidding mansion under unknown circumstances: Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), Mrs. White (Madeline Khan), Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd), Mr. Greeen (Michael McKean), Col. Mustard (Martin Mull), and Miss Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren).
They are welcomed by the estate’s giddy butler (Tim Curry) and sultry maid (Colleen Camp) and then quickly learn that they have a common enemy: the man who is blackmailing them.
Mercifully, Clue survived its initial critical pummeling thanks to the discovery and affection inherent in well-worn TV-movies. It remains, for my money, one of the great screwball comedies, sustained by a quick wit, a corny sensibility, and an endlessly quotable script.
So if you like goofs, gags, and grandiose character acting, strap in because it’s time to explore the mansion — of warm, fuzzy, and invariably silly murder mysteries: