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Review: ‘No Clue’ blends hard-boiled with slapstick for studied noir send-up

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No Clue

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Recently arrived on DVD, No Clue is a charming send up of the hard-boiled film noir genre that finds Kyra (Amy Smart), a striking and mysterious woman, unknowingly commissioning Leo Falloon (Brent Butt), a novelty advertising salesman she mistakenly believes to be a private detective, to find her missing brother. Leo, an all-around good guy who nonetheless finds himself unable to correct the lady’s mistaken impression of him takes the job, reasoning that sleuthing can’t be all that hard, especially since he can bounce ideas off of his friend and confidant, Ernie (David Koechner).

But, No Clue wouldn’t be a proper noir caper if things didn’t get complicated, and fast. Well, fret not, noir fans. No Clue masterfully parodies all of the trademark elements of the film noir genre: the long voiceovers with the kind of descriptions only Bogey could mutter and still sound cool, non-stop twists in the case, the femme fatale and the moral ambiguity are all here, in spades. Butt, who wrote the film in addition to starring, packed the script with elements that tip the hat to the genre traits and then send them way overboard for comedic effect, and for the most part, it works. As in most any comedy there are jokes that don’t quite land, or feel like they would benefit from some subtlety, but true genre fans will find it difficult not to snicker as Butt does his exaggerated Hammett and Chandler-esque voiceovers and bumbles about in a way that would make Mike Hammer, Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe roll their collective eyes.

Amy Smart is spot-on as the damsel in distress who is quite plainly no damsel in the eyes of everyone but the poor schmoe she’s got under her spell. Given the nature of parody she doesn’t get to play it the way Barbara Stanwyck or Jane Greer did, but she has plenty of fun with the archetype.

Those who aren’t familiar with the film noir classics may not find as much to love in No Clue as genre fans who will appreciate the studied nature of the comedy on display here, but those who are will have an enjoyable time with Butt, Smart and Koechner in this caper.

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Format: DVD

Run Time: 96 minutes

Genre: Comedy

Rating: Not rated

Bonus Features: Audio Commentary and Behind-the-Scenes Featurette

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