Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Communism was just a red herring..."

My little, borderline excessive, exploration into Oscar casting a few days back got me thinking. If we are indeed headed towards a new era of light comedies filled with past-Oscar winners a la the disaster flicks of the 1970s, what sort of casting combinations and scenarios are possible? Outside of some sort of sweeping, extended length epic or elaborate casino heist movie; how else would a Hollywood studio reasonably insert all these big stars and their bigger egos into one feature film?

Two words: Clue remake.

The Clue set up is perfectly tailored for maximum ensemble filmmaking. You have six fully developed, totally unique characters, all working equally together to create a murder mystery. That's six opportunities for all-star, Oscar winning casting, not counting possible secondary characters like the Butler or Mr. Boddy or whatever random characters that could be shoehorned in. Despite the heavy subject matter of homicide, the tone, as with nearly all murder mysteries, is lighthearted and fun. It's a perfect piece of cinematic fluff to throw out around the holiday time. If they polish it up enough, it may even get a random pity Oscar nod or two of its own. It's a can't miss situation.

Apparently there's even some historical precedence for an all star murder mystery movie. There were a string of star packed Agatha Christie adaptations from the 70s to the early 80s like "Murder on the Orient Express" (3 Oscar winners, 3 future winners) and "Death on the Nile" (5 winners!) that turned out to be fairly successful. They were even enough of a genre that a parody movie was made, "Murder by Death" (with a respectable 3 Oscar winners of their own); which joins "Fatal Instinct" as one of the most esoteric and unnecessary genre spoofs in film history. Of course what all those Agatha Christie murder mysteries lack is the wealth of quality story material that can only come from the most detailed and richly written of Parker Brothers games (seriously does "Monopoly" even have a plot? How about that exercise in existential absurdity known as "Sorry!"?).

So as a Christmas favor to all the big Hollywood studios, here is my personal casting list of six former Oscar winners and their respective Clue characters. To note, I've tried to keep things economical by selecting past winners that haven't exactly been getting top billing as of late (it is a recession after all, we can't be filling all our films with Clooneys and Kidmans). Also, in terms of likenesses and artistic interpretations I've tried to keep it close to the characters from the 1992 version of the game I found in my basement. Finally, I must emphasize that this is strictly a theoretical thought exercise and that in reality I consider it a futile effort by any studio to improve upon the comedic masterpiece that was the original 1985 "Clue". Why it hasn't reached maximum Rocky Horror/Lebowski-esque cult status is truly the real mystery.

as played by:

The age and the hairline steam to be matching up quite nicely. Slap a pair of glasses on him, throw in a pipe and mustache, wrap him up in tweed and you've got yourself a quality Professor Plum. You know off the bat the audience is going to be suspecting something is up with the good professor when F. Murray strikes that trademark maliciously scheming Salieri smile. If he's willing to lend his Oscar shine to such works as "Muppets From Space" and "Th13een Ghosts" (yes that's actually the official spelling), you'd figure he'd get right on board.

as played by:

Sure he's definitely not hurting for work after serving a tour of duty in the Pirates series, one of the most lucrative trilogies in movie history. However after a nearly 5 year stretch of almost back to back blockbuster shooting, I'm sure he'd be more than eager to take a juicy little theatrical-like role playing opposite some of the most accomplished Hollywood thespians as opposed to a wooden Orlando Bloom and a monkey. I've always considered Mr. Green to be the most suspicious, evil looking character and we all know Rush can definitely do evil (Quills, Pirates, even Mystery Men).

as played by:

Robert Duvall

I originally considered Richard Dreyfuss for the role, but I figured him to be a bit too weak and whiny to play a tough military man. Duvall might be just slightly older than I'd like to be an ideal Mustard, but he makes up for those extra years with a forty plus year career of playing grizzled figures (they even had an SNL sketch about it). Basically if he can just do his asshole, military hero character from "The Great Santini", we'll be in business. As for his willingness to get on board, obviously a look at his filmography this decade ("The 6th Day", "Kicking & Screaming", "Gods and Generals", "Four Christmases") shows that he has long since given up on any discretion over film roles.

Now for the ladies...

as played by:

Brenda Fricker

This was hands down my most obvious selection. Maybe Kathy Bates had an outside shot at the part, but really no other past Oscar winner screams British (although she's Irish) maid than Ms. Fricker. She's got that motherly, yet slightly suspicious character to her that's absolutely perfect. Also, given her classic performance as the mom in "So I Married and Axe Murderer", you know she's game for lighthearted murder movies. On a totally random note, doesn't that picture of Mrs. White look sort of a like an old Britney Spears?

as played by:

Emma Thompson

Ideally, I think Helen Mirren would have been a better fit for the role, but she's only two years removed from an Oscar and five years from becoming a "dame", you know she'll demand the big bucks. I figure Emma Thompson to be a fairly affordable, under the radar Oscar winner (until recently I had forgotten that he had an acting Oscar. She even has an additional one for writing!). In contrast to Duvall's Mustard, Thompson's Peacock will be a little younger then usual, but it's a willing trade off for her talents. The woman has built her career on critically acclaimed ensemble, period piece roles: Howards End, The Remains of the Day, Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually (hey 2003 is a period).

as played by:

Rachel Weisz

As much as it pains me to publicly acknowledge that yes, Rachel Weisz, has indeed won an Oscar, I think she'd probably be the best fit to play the young femme fatale, Miss Scarlet. Ideally, considering the asian Scarlet is the only sliver of diversity in an otherwise completely whitewashed game, I would have liked to have cast an asian actress. Unfortunately, the only actress of East Asian descent to have won an Oscar, Miyoshi Umeki, was far too old and far too dead. I also considered Cathreine Zeta-Jones (she has one too, isn't that nuts?) but she seemed like a bit too big of a name to fit under budget. Rachel Weisz, on the other hand, seems well on her way to joining fellow forgotten best supporting actresses Mira Sorvino and Marica Gay Harden as Oscar trivia stumpers.

So there you have it, six roles, six stars, maybe throw in the Jonas Brothers as a bumbling trio of house servants, and you've got yourself the biggest film (for at least the first week or two of release) of the 2009 holiday season.


  1. "As much as it pains me to publicly ackwnoledge that yes, Rachel Weisz, has indeed won an Oscar"

    And a well deserved Oscar win, despite what personal problem you might have with Rachel Weisz.

    And by the way, "ackwnoledge" is spelled acknowledge

  2. One more thing, Clue did not work the first time as a film and i doubt it will work a second time. This seems like a bad idea that might be shelved before any real work is done for the movie.

    Happy Holiday.

  3. As my remark about the typo you did, it was made in fun, don't take it personally. I'm a typo fanatic myself.

    Happy Holiday and take it easy. By the way, great blog.

  4. Noted and fixed. I encourage all friends of the blog to point out any spelling or grammatical errors.

    Clue is an absolute classic. What other movie has THREE separate endings to be shown randomly at every airing?

    Now that would have really spruced up Citizen Kane

  5. Clue is overrated, the movie's cult is exactly as big as it deserves to be, and Rachel Weisz suuuuuuuucks