By Richard Winters
My Rating: 3 out of 10
4-Word Review: Inspired by board game.
Six individuals (Martin Mull, Eileen Brennan, Lesley Ann Warren, Madeline Kahn, Michael McKean, Christopher Lloyd) are invited to an isolated New England mansion at the behest of Wadsworth (Tim Curry) the butler to the mansion’s owner. It seems that these six people have been blackmailed by Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving) and now Wadsworth, who is employed by Boddy, has decided it’s time to let them off the hook, but not before Boddy himself turns up dead having been murdered by one of the guests. As they try to unravel the mystery more homicides occur forcing the rest to find the killer before he/she finds them.
Initially this film, which is based on the famous Parker Brothers board game and currently being remade, is okay entertainment. The fast paced dialogue has a few good lines and the mystery element lends for some mild intrigue. The performances are also spot-on with each actor perfectly cast for their part. I especially liked Eileen Brennan as the nervous Mrs. Peacock as well as Warren as the sarcastic and snarky Miss Scarlet.
Unfortunately after an agreeable first 40 minutes it finally, like with its many victims, goes down with a thud. The concept just isn’t solid enough for feature length material and the idea of trying to stretch it out by adding more victims only convolutes things and makes an already ridiculous premise even more so. Having Curry spend the final part going back through all the things that had occurred before in an effort to ‘solve’ the case while rushing the rest of the cast from one part of the mansion to the other as he explains it is not amusing, but instead dizzying, redundant and pointless. What may have seemed initially like a novel idea instead becomes just another excursion into silliness and way too similar to Neil Simon’s Murder by Death, which came out in the ‘70’s and also starred Brennan.
True mystery buffs will be the most disappointed as the emphasis is completely on comedy and not in creating any type of elaborate whodunit for the viewer to figure out. The plot itself contains no real ‘clues’ and everything that occurs during the course of the film has nothing to do with who ultimately ends up being the culprit.
The film’s only real unique element is that it featured three different endings with different ones shown at various theaters. The DVD features all three with option to choose one at random. However, the first two are lame and only the third one, which features everyone as the murderer, is the only one that is halfway decent and should’ve been the sole one used.
My Rating: 3 out of 10
Released: December 13, 1985
Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes (Includes all three endings)
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video