Anybody who loves movies as much as I do has seen the brilliantly meticulous work of Michael McKean for years. The characters he portrays are generally very silly, but this does not inhibit his choices or commitment in the slightest. This is what separates an entertaining actor from a goddamn craftsman. And McKean has without a doubt proved himself the latter. The proof is in the celluloid pudding when you take the time to really focus in on his work throughout Clue. So let’s do just that:
Anyone reading this already knows that Mr. Green presents himself as an “accident prone” employee of the State Department. As we watch his klutzy, clumsy missteps and faux pas throughout the film, we see a very genuine human being. He is kind, polite and visibly embarrassed when he spills his champagne or soup on one of his fellow dinner guests. He is legitimately apologetic.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t give mention and most deserved praise to the slapstick and physical comedy used in this flick- the lion’s share of which went to Mr. Green. He does the vast majority of the falls, slips, and collisions that are peppered all through the film and he does it all masterfully. When you’re dealing with writing as sharp, fast and funny as this it is easy to forget that the humor in Clue isn’t exclusively in the wordplay. It is also found in the action, the delivery and the physicality of every moment. It’s impossible to watch Clue with a critical eye and not notice that the vast majority of the lazzi work went to McKean and he absolutely shines in every moment.
Finally, and yes it’s 2015 so we DO have to discuss this- WE as the audience spend a good chunk of the movie under the impression that Mr. Green is gay. Remembering of course that this story takes place in the 1950s this has very real and very permanent legal ramifications at this time in US history. Let us also take into account that this movie was released in 1985 when the LGBT community was being slowly more accepted by the majority of the nation as actual human beings and fellow citizens but were still being largely marginalized and ignored in the areas of actual representation and civil rights. Consequently, gay characters in most major films were often portrayed as foppish comic relief caricatures rather than real people. So here we are, 50s setting in an 80s movie and our supposedly gay character isn’t preening. He isn’t obscenely effeminate or lobbing innuendos at Mr. Body about his nice body. He isn’t dishing with Miss Scarlet or trying to slip Rohypnol into Col. Mustard’s bourbon. He’s a flesh and blood contentious klutz with real standards and morals, poise and dignity. The laughs at his expense never stem from his supposed sexuality. In fact the only humor derived from this revelation is
the awkward way in which everyone else now treats him. The joke isn’t the gay man – it’s the ridiculous straight people who can’t handle his presence. This was a very progressive way to depict a gay character at this time in filmmaking, but Clue takes it a step further by not calling attention to this decision. They don’t applaud themselves or shame the audience. Clue simply lets it be and focuses on the actual meat of the film. A damn classy move if you ask me!
More About Jeff Newman:
- Favorite Movie – The Big Lebowski
- First Clue Experience – My daycare volunteer councilors had it on during naptime. Even at six years old I did not care to participate taking naps. I wandered over to see what the older, more grown up kids were watching.
- Where and With What Would You Kill Mr. Body? – With the Knife in the Billiard Room. That way, I could beat him in a game of pool before the slicing and dicing. And even if he won the game I’d still be the only one to know.
- Most-Anticipated Movie: Captain America – Civil War
- Give an Oscar to a Nominated
PerformanceBest Picture That Didn’t Win – Good Will Hunting. Long Live Icebergs.
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