(On DVD, November 2017) There is something almost instantly comfortable in the way Clue sets up the clichés that make up its initial premise: the 1954 New England manor setting; the thunderstorm outside; the various characters taken from classic crime literature; the knowing butler (“I buttle, sir”) and, of course, Murder! The rest is just pure fun, as various mystery clichés are confronted, dropped, turned upside down and played with. Who knew that the brutal death of a singing telegram girl could be so funny? And yet—Clue, with savvy dialogue, knowing references to its board game origins, daring performances and decent physical comedy, hits whatever we’d expect from a talky comedy—writer/director Jonathan Lynn clearly knew what he was doing. Tim Curry is fantastic as the butler, growing more and more frantic until he hits a sustained high note of manic exposition (“Too Late!”) that is hard to forget. Alongside him, Coleen Camp is poured in a maid’s low-cut blouse, Lesley Ann Warren looks a lot like Susan Sarandon and Michael McKean delivers a sleeper performance that builds and builds until the end. It’s best to watch the film as a comedy first, and as a murder mystery as a distant second, as the film offers three contradictory endings to explain it all (the final one is most satisfying). Clue isn’t a great movie, but it’s definitely a good comedy, and its minor cult movie status is well deserved.
(On DVD, October 2002) The first film was a genuinely amusing satire marred by gratuitous gross-out gags. This one is a poor attempt at a comedy marred by even more gratuitous gross-out gags. It’s not that you’re not grinning (to be fair, the sequences referring to The Exorcist, Mission: Impossible 2 and Charlie’s Angels are worth a discount rental alone if you’re a fan of the original films), it’s that you feel quite guilty for doing so. And whereas the prequel’s gross-out gags had some amusing value, the ones in here are simply mystifying: did someone truly believe, at any moment during the production, that these would be funny? Particularly annoying is Chris Elliot’s character, whose antics are simply perplexing. The rest of the cast is so-so, with Anna Faris doing her best to be as bland as possible and Tim Curry shamelessly collecting a pay-check. (James Woods, however, is as good as usual in his quasi-cameo.) Big fans of satiric comedies might enjoy (“Let’s fight Mad Cow style! Moo! Mutherf…”), but I’d recommend Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday The 13th… well before this one. The DVD contains some forty-odd minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, and it’s telling that they are roughly of the same quality than the rest of the film.