Synopsis – After becoming the prime suspect in a murder, Fletch strives to prove his innocence while simultaneously searching for his girlfriend’s stolen art collection.
My Take – I think we can all agree that we are currently living in a time period where everything and anything is being or going to be remade irrespective of the demand or requirement. In the sense, I really don’t think anyone was desperate to see yet another Irwin M. Fletcher adventure.
An unconventional wiseacre investigator featured in a series of novels from late author Gregory Mcdonald and was once played by SNL icon Chevy Chase on the big screen in Fletch (1985) and its disastrous sequel Fletch Lives (1989). However, the thirty-three year gap wasn’t for a lack of interest.
A follow up/remake has been in development hell since the 1990s, which at a time had Kevin Smith attached, who tried to bring Jason Lee and Ben Affleck on board, and then saw Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence give it a go, with Zack Braff as the lead. Some years ago, even Jason Sudeikis was attached to the role. Eventually with Jon Hamm landing the role of the character’s latest iteration, marking his second collaboration with his Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016) director Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland), who co-wrote this new film with Zev Borow.
Surprisingly, despite all odds against it, the resulting film is a decently entertaining piece of comic mystery fare that not only shines spotlight on Jon Hamm‘s rarely utilized playfulness, but also maintains the core appeal of the earlier incarnations while still putting its own spin on it, in the form of a medium-stakes, high-chuckle caper that gives us a sort of the anti-Hercule Poirot.
Yes, it is nowhere near a classic or wacky like the original film, but it is still a fun film with subtle humor that puts a somewhat clever man in the middle of a collection of eccentric characters. Making the film a welcome watch in a time when straightforward comedies seem to be a dying genre.
Based on the second novel from Gregory McDonald‘s Fletch series, the story follows Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher (Jon Hamm), a former investigative journalist and now a freelance reporter, who finds himself immediately in trouble as he walks into a Boston townhouse, rented on his behalf, and finds it to be the site of a murder of a young woman.
Though detectives Monroe (Roy Wood Jr.) and Griz (Ayden Mayeri) are all too eager to believe Fletch is the perpetrator, despite him calling the police in the first place, Fletch is left with no choice but to clear his name along with finding some stolen artworks for his girlfriend Angela (Lorenza Izzo), the daughter of an Italian count who’s been kidnapped with the kidnappers demanding the artworks as ransom. Unphased by the possibility of taking the fall for a frame-up, Fletch travels around Boston using his unconventional investigative skills to find the artwork and the true killer.
Unfortunately for him, he also tends to wander into the orbit of wealthy and/or powerful people whose personality quirks stem from their unchecked privilege, like the EDM-loving, germ-phobe art dealer Ronald Horan (Kyle MacLachlan) and Angela’s oblivious boozy stepmother, Countess De Grassi (Marcia Gay Harden).
Here, director Mottola has all the pieces in place for a hilarious romp, and backed with zippy pacing and consistently well-written screwball jokes, the film moves along entertainingly from one plot development to the next. This one is a clever soft-baked cookie of a mystery, never getting too intense or presenting massive stakes, which is the perfect sandbox for a wise-cracking investigator like Fletch to play around in as he relies on a mix of charm, smarts, and luck to make it through to the other side. The writing is more interested in eccentricities, attempting to whip up some laughs, which are seldom found together in a feature.
Gone are the goofy costumes and strained absurdity of the previous films and replaced by a nice layer of grit and an anti-authoritarian streak. Instead they have updated the story to the present day with playful digs at Instagram influencers, EDM, and the state of modern journalism.
There’s more entertainment value in Fletch’s misadventures and his battles with the police, taking pressure off Jon Hamm to deliver snarky lines, allowing him to inhabit the trickster side of the character, which works best for the film, getting out of Chevy Chase’s shadow to find its own way with shenanigans.
Yes, the film acts a perfect showcase of Jon Hamm‘s comedic chops, a well-known skill that hasn’t been properly used until now. Hamm is really solid playing the titular Fletch and his laid back slightly sardonic attitude is captured by the pitch perfect timing of his performance and Mottola‘s direction who keeps the gags and exchanges quick and rapid fire with the various quirky characters we meet established and utilized without letting them run rampant. The film benefits greatly from a first-rate supporting cast.
Roy Wood Jr. and Ayden Mayeri are immensely likable as the police detectives who find themselves in Fletch’s orbit. Kyle MacLachlan is incredibly funny, Annie Mumolo lends her gifts to play the wacky neighbor, Lorenza Izzo is charming, and Marcia Gay Harden is as always excellent. Fellow ‘Mad Men’ alum John Slattery also shows up in a small role and is quite amusing. On the whole, ‘Confess, Fletch’ is an easygoing crime comedy that delivers a welcome bit of light hearted escapism.
Directed – Greg Mottola
Rated – R
Run Time – 98 minutes