I'M GOING to tell you whodunit. It was Parker Brothers with a projector at the Bijou. And they dun good, too. Dolls, comic book characters and assorted other one-dimensional heroes have tried movies before, but "Clue" is the first-ever motion picture based on a board game.
"Clue" is low comedy at its highest, slapstick at its wackiest, staggeringly silly burlesque at its bawdiest. It's a cleverly concocted non-mystery featuring the characters, the rooms, the murder weapons that we all know and love. Mr. Body, five other bodies, a maid, a butler, a cook and assorted other potential victims are added to the mystery melange.
Eileen Brennan, Madeline Kahn and Tim Curry are foremost in a surefooted comic ensemble of suspects who sneak, shriek and creep about a mysterious mansion full of corpses one gothic night.
Brennan is the fluttery Mrs. Peacock, with Kahn as the mankilling Mrs. White, who thinks husbands should be like Kleenex, "soft, strong and disposable." Curry is the punctilious butler, with Christopher Lloyd as Professor Plum, the psychiatrist; Michael McKean as Mr. Green, a gay civil servant; Martin Mull as the blustery Colonel Mustard; and Lesley Ann Warren as the nostril-flaring Miss Scarlet.
The dialogue, punctuated with the heroines' hearty yowls, is brazenly absurd. Mr. Green includes Miss Scarlet in the dinner conversation while passing the main course:
"You like Kipling, Miss Scarlet?"
"Oh, I'll eat anything," she replies.
Perfectly timed group pratfalls, dexterous delivery and the choreographed comic timing outweigh the gummed-up but necessary this- is-how-it-happened speeches that slow the pace. Whenever Curry, a punctilious butler, finds he's run on, he declares, "To make a long story short." The group yells, "Too late," like a depraved Greek chorus.
BBC-TV writer Jonathan Lynn makes his directorial debut with "Clue," which he cowrote with John Landis, the director of such hits as "Trading Places" and "Animal House." The two have come up with three solutions to the mystery, marked A, B and C at theater marquees. A is good, but B and C are better.
CLUE (PG) -- At area theaters.