2022, R, 99 min. Directed by Greg Mottola. Starring Jon Hamm, Lorenza Izzo, Roy Wood Jr., Ayden Mayeri, Kyle MacLachlan, Marcia Gay Harden, John Slattery, Eugene Mirman.
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Sept. 16, 2022
Confess: Was anyone at this point clamoring for a new Fletch movie? A sequel or reboot or reimagining or whatever has been if not actively in development then at least in the let’s-manifest-this ether for what feels like eons. But is the character really so beloved? By 2022 standards, the allergic-to-authority investigative journalist named Irwin M. “Fletch” Fletcher who first launched in Gregory Mcdonald’s Edgar Award-winning paperback in 1974 is pretty sour to taste now. Chevy Chase’s loosey-goosey take in Michael Ritchie’s 1985 film version was less caustic, but still very much of its era, and the 1989 follow-up, Fletch Lives, definitively put the character – on film at least – in dirt.
Yet Fletch has risen again – this time for a low-energy caper helmed by Greg Mottola, whose specialty is shaggy comedies like Adventureland (outstanding) and Superbad (overrated). Adapting Mcdonald’s 1976 novel of the same name, Mottola and co-writer Zev Borow have wisely opted to modernize the era and the attitudes. (This Fletch still fucks, but without the casual misogyny, so that’s nice.) Lacking Chase’s physical comedy prowess, Jon Hamm opts instead for an affable, extremely chill spin, which has its own pleasures; his Fletch seems untroubled by the dead body that jump-starts the plot, or the cop (Wood Jr., amusingly exasperated) who’s convinced he’s behind the murder. Some of the actors go broad – like, dinner theatre broad, which sounds like a dig but really isn’t – including Marcia Gay Harden as a contessa who is “half-Brazilian, half-Italian, half-French.” The joke of course is that the math doesn’t work out. It’s not a half-bad joke, which doesn’t make it a good one, either. And that right there is pretty much the crux of the thing: Genial and unbothered, Confess, Fletch never climbs higher than mere adequacy.