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Is Clue the Best Board Game to Movie Adaptation? Yes, Yes It Is

No need to roll the dice, it's clear that director Jonathan Lynn's Clue movie is the best in class. 

By Tara Bennett
The cast wears formalwear and stares in Clue (1985).

To be frank, movies based on board games have always been a weird sub genre of IP mining. What makes a board game successful often has nothing to do with narrative, characters, or cohesive arc. So figuring out how to translate the theme of a game, or even its parts, into something worthwhile is truly a writing exercise with steep challenges. So when a writer and/or director are able to deliver a great movie based on a board game, there's an extra layer of appreciation that goes with it. 

For our money, director Jonathan Lynn's Clue (now streaming on Peacock) remains the all-time board game to screen champion. Almost 40 years after it debuted in theaters, Clue is a timeless screwball, ensemble mystery featuring a cast of incredible comedians all working at the top of their game. Not only a modern classic, but it's a model of how writers should even begin to think about adapting game IP into something more. 

Here are some of the reasons we think Clue is the best of the bunch when it comes to board game movies.

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Why Clue Is the Best Movie Based on a Board Game 

Clue Has Three Different Endings

Miss Scarlet (Leslie Ann Warren) and Wadsworth (Tim Curry) stand in formalwear in Clue (1985).

Aside from the Clue IP itself, the big hook of the movie upon release was that there were three different endings... kind of like the way the game had multiple possibilities. Theaters were given a print with one version of the ending, with the studio hoping that audiences would buy additional tickets at different theaters to see the other endings. Unfortunately, audiences did not rise to the occasion so Clue ended up barely breaking even at the box office

Where Clue really took off was on home video, where there was a revised cut of the film which stitched all three endings together as the new final ending. The zaniness of the options gave audiences a new appreciation for the audacity of the script and the prowess of the cast in making it all come together. Not to mention, Michael McKean's perfect line reading, "I'm gonna go home and sleep with my wife!"

Tim Curry as the Center of the Storm

An incredible performer on stage and screen, Tim Curry knows how to command an audience. From playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show to the Lord of Darkness in Legend, Curry is just a natural at being the center of attention. Which makes his de facto role as Wadsworth, the butler, such a fun play on his skills.

At first, Wadsworth is meant to blend in and let the guests of the manor be in the spotlight. But as bodies drop and guests start to panic, Curry's Wadsworth becomes the calm figure in the middle of the chaos. And as they head into the resolution of the murders, Curry amps up his performance as he drags the guests around the mansion proving his theories. It's a kind of theatrical, kinetic chaos, and Curry makes it look easy. 

An Ensemble to Die For

When Clue was released in 1985, the cast was comprised of some of the greatest character-centric comedians working in film and television. Eileen Brennan (Private Benjamin), Madeline Kahn (Young Frankenstein), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), Michael McKean (Spinal Tap), Martin Mull (Mr. Mom), Lesley Ann Warren (Victor/Victoria), and Curry were all big names with huge hits on their resumes. They were tasked with taking on the mostly undefined personas of the playable characters in the board game. Physically, they assumed the look as seen in the illustrations featured in the game. But personality wise, the actors were able to interpret in their own inimitable ways. How they interacted with one another is one of the biggest treats of the film.

Madeline Kahn's "Flames" Freak Out

To this day, Kahn's inarticulate confession of murder remains one of the greatest cinematic expressions of barely contained rage ever. Considering that her character, Mrs. White, was inscrutable and secretive throughout the majority of the film, when we do see her meltdown in such a unique fashion, it says everything about Kahn's incredible comedic timing and imagination.

Watch Clue on Peacock now!