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Who Done It: The Clue Documentary

average rating is 2 out of 5


William Hemingway


Posted on:

Sep 26, 2022

Film Reviews
Who Done It: The Clue Documentary
Directed by:
Jeff C. Smith
Written by:
Jeff C. Smith
Jeff Smith, Jonathan Lynn, Colleen Camp, Michael McKean, Lesley Ann Warren

So, in 1985 there was Clue, a farcical comedy film based on the popular detective board game of the same name (or Cluedo as it is originally called here in the UK) – except that it wasn't really all that popular. Sure, everybody probably had a copy of the game in the bottom of their sideboard somewhere, but it was never anybody's first choice to play and was always an also ran to Monopoly, Mouse Trap, Battleships or Operation. Play was always slow and muted, people were never really sure of all the rules, there was always one cheater who took sly looks at the cards and someone always guessed far too early how the murder happened, getting it wrong but ending the game in the only way it could be done in any sensible length of time. So obviously they made a film of it.


Clue, the film, tried to riff off the vibe of the game with its campy, Agatha Christie murder mystery shenanigans and a bunch of strangers with strange names meeting in an old mansion where someone gets bumped off and they try to find out whodunnit. Throw in a bunch of slapstick comedy, manic dialogue, over-zealous performances and an inordinate amount of running from one room to another and apparently you have the basis of a cult classic – depending on who you ask.


Jeff Smith is one such person who views the film with dewy-eyed nostalgia and he tells the story of how he was one day sick with Covid and bored with nothing to do, so he decided to create a fan-made documentary about his favourite movie and now, five years later, we have Who Done It: The Clue Documentary.


Jeff tells the story from his car for some reason, violating multiple traffic laws as he does so, and he fills in the gaps between his interview segments with his own personal take on how the film – his film took shape. He narrates the story of Clue as he narrates his own story, too and we begin to see how personal this journey has become for him over the five years he has put into it.


Jeff does a good job of pulling together most of the surviving cast to talk to, as well as writer/director Jonathan Lynn, and there are plenty of nice anecdotes about pre-production and filming to keep even the most ardent fan amused. Unfortunately the interviews are a fairly amateur affair with not much attention given to lighting or sound and everything has a sort of home-movie feel to its quality. Half of the whole documentary is given over to cast profiling and it's about an hour before we get into looking at Clue proper. Even then the questioning seems fairly surface level and no real secrets are revealed, bringing into question the validity and need for such an investigation.


What becomes clear as Who Done It: The Clue Documentary progresses is just how much of this piece has been Jeff's own journey – and when at one point he asks himself who this film is really for – it's easy to see what the answer actually is. Still, there are plenty of other people out there who love Clue just as much as Jeff does and they will most likely be delighted at this retrospective look, as well as getting to revisit with their favourite cast members, even if it is only in the form of convention footage in the case of Tim Curry.


For a fan-made documentary, Jeff Smith has done very well to bring so many of the notable people together to revisit this cult classic. However, in the days of The Movies That Made Us and Voir, high production retrospectives with access all areas are becoming increasingly easy to get your hands on, and in that sea of one-hour TV docs this low budget production just doesn't cut the mustard.

About the Film Critic
William Hemingway
William Hemingway
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