Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Recasting CLUE

The news broke this week that Ryan Reynolds is producing a remake of the the cult classic Clue, with the writers of Deadpool working on the screenplay.

Like Travis, I’m a big fan of Clue, the movie based on the classic board game. I believe it’s one of the most underrated comedies of the eighties. I mean, c’mon, look at this killer cast (in every sense of the term):

Clue 1985 cast Atomic Junk Shop
(L. to R.) Lesley Ann Warren, Martin Mull, Madeline Kahn, Michael McKean, Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, and Eileen Brennan. That’s a Murderer’s Row of talent right there.

And you put them all together with a script by Jonathan Lynn and John Landis and direction by Lynn (My Cousin Vinny, The Whole Nine Yards)? Forget about it.

While I don’t think that Clue necessarily needs to be remade, I have to admit it’s an intriguing idea. And heck, if it gets more people to rediscover the 1985 original, that can only be a good thing. I got to wondering how you’d recast Clue with the stars of today, so I opened it up to suggestions on my Facebook page. My friends Frankie Viturello, Darin Patterson, and Mollie Sperduto all came up with some terrific choices. This is their list as much as it is mine, and I’m really happy with how the ensemble turned out. I would see this movie in a heartbeat.

For the sake of this exercise, I’m going to assume that the remake will have the same basic premise and plot as the 1985 original: Six strangers given color-coded pseudonyms gather together at a spooky mansion in 1954 New England, where the butler Wadsworth informs them that they’re all being blackmailed by the same man, Mr. Boddy. Boddy shows up and distributes weapons amongst the guests (the game’s revolver, knife, candlestick, wrench, noose, and lead pipe), daring them to kill Wadsworth. But Boddy’s plan backfires as he ends up dead himself. With the police on the way, it’s left to Wadsworth and the seven guests to figure out who the killer is before he (or she) strikes again. Hijinks ensue.

Clue mansion Atomic Junk Shop
The Boddy Mansion. Matte painting by Albert Whitlock and Syd Dutton.

I personally would keep the multiple ending gimmick of the original, but I’d put them all together in the same cut, the way Clue‘s been presented on television and home video for the last three decades. That does away with the confusion that helped kill Clue in its original theatrical release.

Oh, and one more thing: While I realize that Ryan Reynolds will very probably play one of these parts himself in the finished film and I can certainly see him in a couple of them, it was just more fun to cast the whole thing from scratch. Nothing personal, Ryan.

So, to make a long story short (too late!), here are my choices:

Benedict Cumberbatch as WadsworthBenedict Cumberbatch Wadsworth Clue Atomic Junk Shop

Wadsworth has to be British. That’s non-negotiable. He’s the epitome of the proper English butler, which makes him all the more hilarious the more frantic and deranged he becomes. While Clue is an ensemble, whoever plays Wadsworth has to carry the movie on his shoulders, as he’s the one explaining the plot throughout the entire picture. And let’s face it, Tim Curry is a tough act to follow in anything, so whoever you cast needs to have killer acting chops. So you need a funny British person still capable of rattling off long reams of exposition whenever the plot calls for it. Cumberbatch has been doing that on the BBC’s Sherlock since 2010. Plus, he looks great in a tux. He’s our guy.

Christina Hendricks as Miss ScarletChristina Hendricks Miss Scarlet Clue Atomic Junk Shop

Mad Men‘s Christine Hendricks has shown a real flair for comedy in recent years on shows like Another Period, so who better to follow in Lesley Ann Warren’s high heels as the sexy yet unrepentant madam Miss Scarlet? And with her drop dead gorgeous looks, Hendricks would put the femme in femme fatale.

J.K. Simmons as Col. MustardJK SImmons Colonel Mustard Clue Atomic Junk Shop

J.K. Simmons has played several military types in his career, including Justice League Unlimited‘s General Eiling, so he’s a natural for the military member of our ensemble. And his turn as J. Jonah Jameson in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy proves he’s got great comedic chops, too. He’d be a gruffer and more authoritative Col. Mustard than Martin Mull was, but I think that would be good for variety’s sake. And c’mon, can’t you just hear Simmons bellowing, “This is WAR, Peacock!” right now?

And speaking of Mrs. Peacock…

Jessica Walter as Mrs. PeacockJessica Walter Mrs Peacock Clue Atomic Junk Shop

Jessica Walter is reliably hilarious on such shows as Arrested Development and Archer, so I think she’d be wonderful to succeed Eileen Brennan as the quirky-yet-corrupt Senator’s wife Mrs. Peacock. And Walter’s time as Lucille Bluth has certainly given her plenty of experience with swigging cocktails.

Neil Patrick Harris as Mr. GreenNeil Patrick Harris Mr Green Clue Atomic Junk Shop

How I Met Your Mother‘s Neil Patrick Harris has had great fun playing with his image as an out & proud gay man on projects like the Harold & Kumar movies, so why not cast him as the nebbish and closeted State Department employee Mr. Green? And like Michael McKean before him, Harris is a ferociously talented actor who can wring every possible laugh out of lines that look utterly ordinary on the page.

John C. Reilly as Prof. PlumJohn C Reilly Prof Plum Clue Atomic Junk Shop

Prof. Plum was stumping me at first, since Christopher Lloyd gives one of my favorite performances in the film as the bookish yet perverted academic. So for this part, I think we have to shake it up a bit and go with John C. Reilly of Walk Hard, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers. I see about six different ways Reilly could play Prof. Plum, and all of them would be hilarious.

Kate McKinnon as Mrs. WhiteKate McKinnon Mrs White Clue Atomic Junk Shop

Saturday Night Live‘s McKinnon is about the only person working today who could give the great Madeline Kahn a run for her money in sheer hilarity. McKinnon’s versatile as hell, and always hilarious. She’s been poised for a breakout movie role for a while now, and I think Clue could be it. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no other choice for our black widow Mrs. White.

Kate Upton as YvetteKate Upton Yvette Clue Atomic Junk Shop

Let’s face it, Yvette the maid has to be cast largely based on her looks. So who better than to spend the movie bouncing around in a French maid outfit than Sports Illustrated swimsuit model & actress Kate Upton?

Ellie Kemper as the Singing Telegram GirlEllie Kemper Singing Telegram Girl Clue Atomic Junk Shop

This is one of the smallest parts in Clue, but Kemper is tailor made for it. The Telegram Girl has to be so insufferably perky that you don’t mind her being shot to death seconds after she appears. Perky has been Kemper’s bread and butter on shows such as The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, so she’s a perfect fit.

Singing Telegram Girl Clue Atomic Junk Shop
DEAD perfect.

And lastly…

Bill Murray as Mr. BoddyBill Murray Mr Boddy Clue Atomic Junk Shop

To play Mr. Boddy, you need someone who’ll come in, make a strong impression in a short amount of time, and be sleazy & obnoxious enough that you believe our cast would murder him within ten minutes of meeting him. Bill Murray could do that in his sleep. Heck, back in 1985, I thought that Lee Ving was Bill Murray, working under an alias (I wasn’t too into the punk scene when I was 13, so I’d never heard of the Fear frontman). So why not put the real Murray in the remake?

I’ve also got to say that I love the idea of casting one of the world’s biggest comedy stars and having him be dragged around as a corpse for half of the movie. I bet Murray would like it, too.

Bill Murray Parks and Rec Clue Atomic Junk Shop
He even has previous corpse experience!

So that’s my Clue cast! I think it’s a nice mix of talents who’ll give us some cool comedy. What do you think, folks? Am I dead right or dead wrong? Is my version of Clue a must see or a flop in the making? Sound off in the comments!

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  1. Greg Burgas

    Those are actually great choices. Of course, that means none of them will actually be in the movie (send this link to Ryan Reynolds, stat!). I’m curious about the movie, too.

    … Although I thought the joke was that McKean wasn’t actually gay at all. He’s not “closeted,” everyone just assumes he’s gay, even though he’s not. Are we not to believe him when he says he’s going home to sleep with his wife?

  2. Le Messor

    I suspect that Tim Curry could reprise his role, though Cumberbatch is spot-on casting.

    I also doubt they’d keep the ‘closeted gay man’ angle in 2018. Nobody would care. (Actually, nobody in the movie cared in 1985, but you could see it being held over a government agent back then.)

    Jessica Walter would also have to be prepared to be in a remake of Murder By Death. 😀

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