movie review: Confess, Fletch! (2022)

What did I watch? The 2022 comedy mystery Confess, Fletch!

Oh good, Chevy Chase is BACK and in top form! No.

Chevy Chase is back and kinda funny? No.

De-aged Chevy Chase? Animated Chevy Chase? It’s Jon Hamm.

I have some friends who love love love Fletch (1985) and Fletch Lives (1989), which star Chevy Chase as the sarcastic and condescending journalist of many faces, begrudgingly rooting out corruption and winning over the ladies or whatever. For me, they’re okay comedies if nothing else is on. I feel about Chevy Chase like I feel about how people think Deadpool is funny: Chevy’s characters in most movies get to stand there on the screen and mock the other characters, often written as just reactionaries to Chevy’s stings whether they get them or not.

The character Fletch had appeared in a series of novels and recently was dusted off and recast as Jon Hamm. Hamm is of course the tall dark and handsome ad man Don Draper from the drama Mad Men who talked down to everyone and cheats on his wife (wives) while coming up for slogans for LIFE cereal. But Hamm is also a really funny actor, from the cameos I’ve seen of him in various tv shows and movies – I’m glad he doesn’t have to be stone faced handsome in other serious TV shows. So is Fletch a character or just a name for an actor to live out their real-life attitude on camera like how it feels like Chevy Chase does?

Here in Confess, Fletch!, Fletch finds himself as a suspect in a murder that he immediately doesn’t take seriously as he dials the non-emergency number instead of 911 after discovering the victim’s body in his rented home in Boston. I’ve had to call 911 after someone knocked down a tree in front of the store, even though the accident had long passed since discovering the felled tree. Them’s the rules, but Fletch has contempt for the rules and for anyone he feels is wasting his time. Fletch is on the trail of stolen art, owned by a rich Italian guy who we don’t see because he’s been kidnapped. Fletch had also started dating the rich Italian guy’s daughter.

There’s a lot of characters who have ins and outs with the apartment or with the trail of the stolen art, and investigating them becomes the kind of bits I described above but at least this time the actors get to really get into their ridiculous quirks instead of having a Chevy Chase-like presence mocking them for being less intelligent. It’s a light mystery, and there’s no way that Fletch can always be a step above everyone else like some kind of Tom Cruise Reacher presence. He’s a reporter, after all, not a detective, but you almost forget that until he calls up John Slatterly, also formerly of Mad Men, who in this movie happens to be a former editor from LA who happens to be in Boston too now? what? I think that’s the amazing coincidence. Anyway, some characters are just comic bits for Hamm to react to, some characters have ulterior motives that extends the mystery even if it starts to seem obvious, or at least gives these wild threads a reason to exist if not tie into each other.

So was it good? Yes. I laughed a lot, I didn’t feel that much danger that a mystery full of a false accusation of murder should bring its main character, like in Knives Out. Hamm’s Fletch, though somehow a step above the police as they try to follow him around town, wasn’t the infallible movie star whose ego got to carry the film. I don’t know of a bigger picture or deeper meaning in the story other than “man with contempt for rich people & authority solves crime with suspects full of weirdos” but it was a fun movie, recommended. I don’t know if it did well enough to allow for sequels, but I hope we get to see more of Hamm as Fletch.

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