Stolen, shamelessly, from Kyle Cupp’s Facebook feed:

“Whom would you cast in a remake of CLUE?”

My response wasn’t “Who needs to remake CLUE?!?!” I think I’ve gotten over my past knee-jerk reaction about remakes. Let’s just all agree that they’re statistically likely to be bad, and they’re statistically likely to make money, and they’re in-house intellectual property so movie studios will probably continue to make them. Since they’re sometimes actually entertaining, and sometimes (even if very very rarely) better than the original, let’s take them as an opportunity for hope instead of despair.

In that vein, recasting gives us the opportunity to present our own spin on classics. Here’s my draftee list for a remake of Clue. I include a movie line for you to picture said actor delivering said line, to justify my objectively correct choices.

First, for the nod to the original:

Tim Curry gets the walk-on as The Chief (Hessman’s role in the original). Michael McKean gets The Motorist (Kramer). Martin Mull might be able to do The Cop.

Now, the new crew:

Mrs. Peacock (Brennan) is Helen Mirren. “Well, I’m sure I don’t know. But if I wasn’t trying to keep the conversation going, then we would just be sitting here in an embarrassed silence.”

Mrs. White (Khan) is Ming-Na Wen. “Flames on the side of my face.”

Ms. Scarlet (Warren) is Kristen Wiig. “Oh, I’m being blackmailed all right, but I did what I’m being blackmailed for.”

Mr. Green (Mc Kean) is Paul Rudd. “I can’t unlock the door WITHOUT THE KEY!”

Prof Plum (Lloyd) is Jim Parsons. “You don’t know what kind of people they have at the U.N., I might go up in their estimation.”

Col. Mustard (Mull) is Jim Gaffigan. “How many husbands have you had?”

Wadsworth (Curry) is John Cusack. “All right, I am! I’m shouting, I’m shouting, I’M SHOUTING!”

Mr. Boddy (Ving) is Javier Bardem. “He has the key to the front door, which he said would only be opened over his dead body. I suggest we take him up on that offer.”

Yvette (Camp) is Jennifer Lawrence. “I will keep something warm for him.”

The good Doctor Russell Saunders recommended Taylor Swift for Singing Telegram Girl (I was drawing a blank), I think that’s a winner.

Featured image from Clue!, The Movie, poster art

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Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution. ...more →

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29 thoughts on “Recast!

  1. Re: “statistically likely to be bad”

    Do you say this because…
    A) The movies most likely to be remade are good-to-great-to-excellent movies and the odds of equalling or besting a good-to-great-to-excellent movie are low.
    B) Most movie remakes are bad.

    And if the answer is B, that leads me to a deeper question about math, which perhaps you or Schilling or someone else can answer.

    A new sports stat looks at win probability. As I understand it, these stats are calculated by looking at all prior instances of Situation X, determine how often Team A prevailed and how often Team B prevailed and, voila, win probability. But is that really the probability of the team winning? That feels like an incorrect use of “probability”. Past events do not seem deterministic, especially given all the variables. So, maybe only 20% of teams have won a game when trailing 5-3 entering the bottom of the 9th. But that doesn’t mean that any subsequent team in that position will only win that game 1 out of 5 times. It is probably roughly around that, but that ignores A) the specifics of the given teams (wouldn’t a team with the heart of the order against a cruddy relief pitcher have ever-so-slightly higher odds than a team trotting out the lower third against in-his-prime Mariano Rivera?) and B) allows for the probability to actually change over time. If for some reason, the next 10 teams to enter the bottom of the 9th trailing 5-3 all win, then maybe we reach a point wherein 22% of historical teams have won, at which point the WP for that given situation becomes 22%. But probability can’t change, can it? No matter how many times a coin comes up heads, it remains a 50/50 proposition.

    Am I making sense? Also, sorry to derail…


    • Win probabilities are inductive, and don’t need to assume that the past is deterministic, merely that it is ordered and that the order hasn’t been significantly altered in the present case. It’s imperfect, because the model can’t include everything, but assuming these are as they have been, they should tend to be that way again, and they will have some measure of statistical noise that accounts for things like differences between teams.

      Then again, there’s Daniel Murphy, who is the baseball version of grue: before October 2015, he was not a power hitter by any stretch of the imagination, and after October 2015 he’s hitting a home run every 6 at bats.


      • Also, the second-order effects are more likely to be insulated – if bunting in a given situation lowers the average WP from 30% to 22%, regardless of whether your current actual baseline is 50% or 12%, all else being equal, bunting will be a negative.

        The larger point is that managers, head coaches, etc. should know the baseline cold. They should know the average down/distance/field position where the average breakpoint is between punting and going-on-4th. They should know just how bad a hitter and how good a bunter you have to be to make an average sacrifice situation worthwhile.

        Then they use their expertise and experience to evaluate how the specific situation is different from the average. This should be a much simpler calculation than trying to derive the whole thing from first principles, so you can do it when you’re on the clock without burning a time out. And it should be more accurate than just making [email protected]#$ up.


        • Right. I assume someone has built or is building apps for just this sort of thing: you input a few variables and it spits out the probabilities based on win probability model (or a model of some other, more specific outcome). Of course, if the other team has the same app, they have a good idea what you’re going to do, so…


          • Tango Tiger LITERALLY wrote the book on this. Charts and everything. Sadly, most sports heavily restrict the use of sideline technology. But, hey, Tango Tiger wrote a book! For baseball, at least.


    • Short answer: all else being equal, the probabilities remain the same. The problem is, all else is rarely equal.

      In your baseball example, it is possible that it is just a statistical fluke. In that case, you would expect the percentage to revert to the mean in the long run. But there is a possibility that there is an additional factor causing the probabilities to go up. Perhaps there is some change in strategy, or conditioning, or the rules of the game that increase the chances of more runs by the losing team in later innings. You can only say that it is a fluke if you manage to rule the other factors out.

      With the movie example, perhaps the studios start investing more in good scripts for remakes, better directors, better effects, etc. Or maybe they start remaking worse movies, so the remake looks better in comparison. In that case, the probabilities of a better remake go up markedly. So it’s not just based upon past experience.


  2. What about a rerun of Murder by Death instead? We can have Nathan Lane play Truman Capote’s part. Sydney Wong might be problematic but something could be worked out, maybe Jackie Chan. Sean Connery and Helen Mirren could do Dick and Doris.


  3. LeeEsq:
    What about a rerun of Murder by Death instead? We can have Nathan Lane play Truman Capote’s part. Sydney Wong might be problematic but something could be worked out, maybe Jackie Chan. Sean Connery and Helen Mirren could do Dick and Doris.

    Or Stephen Fry as Capote – he’s really good at switching personae on the fly, and does camp really well, just not often.

    As for Wong, the remake of the video game “Shadow Warrior” shows that it’s possible to Race Lift a crude stereotype of an Asian to a real Asian without losing the core of the character (admittedly, the core of Lo Wang’s character isn’t what a lot of dudebros thought it was, but oh well).


    • Fry looks a bit too imposing to be a replacement for Capote and Lane has more of Capote’s mannerisms and eccentricities about him.

      The thing about Sydney Wong’s character is that he is supposed to be outrageous just like everybody else in that movie is outrageous. Murder by Death is more or less about a reader getting frustrated with all the constant surprises and plot twists in mystery novels and Neil Simon identified very heavily with Capote’s character. I’m not sure if you could do a version of Sydney Wong that was outrageous enough but could pass current guidelines.

      Comedy during the late 1970s and 1980s seemed a bit wilder than modern comedy. It was rarely as crude but you didn’t have put in some moments of sincerity towards the end. Even at it’s most serious moments, you could still be completely irreverent.


  4. I’m working under the assumption that a remake means a new script. And so I am choosing to cast the new Clue as one with characters closer to the original board game, as opposed to the roles/actors from the film.

    John Boehner as Mr. Boddy

    He’ll have no real lines, and just show up as a dead body, a la Kevin Costner in The Big Chill. He’s going to have free time, he won’t have to act, and he won’t be credited prior to the movie’s release. The audience seeing Boehner as the murder victim will be a good gag.

    John Cleese as Col. Mustard

    I want a Clue-esque, big, walrus-mustachioed Col. Mustard. And I want the goofiness and comic timing needed to make such a role funny and not just trite. Cleese is my man.

    Scarlett Johansen as Miss Scarlet

    What do you mean I’m just casting her in this role so I can see her wear sexy evening wear? She’s got the chops! And anyway, so what if I am? Who died and made you the morality police?

    Margo Martindale as Mrs. White

    I want a maid that looks like the maids on the old school Clue cards, and I want an actress with the talent to be funny, lovable, and eeeeevil in turns. Martingale fits the bill nicely.

    Benjamin Cumberbatch as Rev. Mr. Green

    Visually, the perfect build and look for a long, lanky British minister. Has already aced the “looking sinister even as he plays angelic” look.

    Maggie Smith as Mrs. Peacock

    Because really, is there any other choice? Isn’t anyone else you cast ultimately going to be cast because you were asking yourselves, “who do we know that can come off the most like Maggie Smith?”

    Don Cheadle as Professor Plum

    Don Cheadle can play anything, and I would love to see him play this role. Added Bonus: Watching Twitter, the Internet, and the hosts of Fox & Friends freak out about an African American playing a role that is based on a white board game character would be awesome.


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