Released: 18th November
Seen: 4th December
The Fletch series of novels, all written by Gregory McDonald between 1974 and 1986, were a series about an investigative reporter named Irwin Maurice “Fletch” Fletcher who often found himself getting mixed up in murder investigations. The first book in this series got adapted into the 1985 film Fletch starring Chevy Chase which became a pretty sizeable hit, becoming the 12th highest-grossing film of that year. It got a sequel in 1989 with Fletch Lives and ever since then a third film has been stuck in limbo, always being talked about but never actually getting made. For 33 years this series lay dormant, almost sure to never return… and now it’s back with Confess, Fletch and if you’re looking for a funny detective story and missed out on Glass Onion’s limited theatrical run, this should be good enough to keep you going.
Confess, Fletch recasts the role of Fletch with Jon Hamm and plants Fletch in the middle of a mystery that involves art thieves, Italians and a murder. Fletch is sent from Italy to Boston by his girlfriend Angela (Lorenza Izzo) to try and track down some paintings that were stolen from her father and when Fletch turns up at the house that’s been rented for him to stay in he finds a dead body. After calling the cops, Fletch becomes the prime suspect in the murder but he doesn’t really have time to deal with that so he just keeps trying to avoid the cops while looking into the art theft. While he’s looking for that missing art, he might just be putting himself in mortal danger…which might be preferable to dealing with the insane people surrounding him.
What Confess, Fletch does better than almost anything else is display just how good a leading man Jon Hamm is. The entire film only works if Fletch is able to be both convincingly charming and deliver the rapid-fire dialogue just right and Hamm not only does both but he does them with such ease that it’s almost offensive. From the moment you meet him you just want to go with him on this adventure and every facet of the character is completely sold. You want to join this character on a big adventure, want to see him proven innocent and can’t help but laugh at every witty barb thrown out. It’s kind of amazing how much he elevates the entire film, and how much the film doesn’t even need that much elevation to begin with.
Confess, Fletch runs through the murder mystery storyline tropes with relish and has a ton of fun on the way. Everyone outside of Fletch is a larger-than-life weirdo who adds a ton of flair to the proceedings, be it the weird neighbour who doesn’t seem to care about her oven constantly catching fire or Angela’s Italian mother Contessa (Marcia Gay Harden) who keeps trying to seduce Fletch as some kind of test to see if he’s good enough for Angela. It’s this wild cast of assorted strange characters that keeps Confess, Fletch from getting dull, every time it looks like the film might be about to lose some momentum they bring in some wacky side character and the energy rockets back up again.
The actual mystery at the heart of Confess, Fletch is admittedly the weakest part, its resolution doesn’t feel as satisfying as it could be in part due to the number of red herrings thrown about and that there seems to be almost no actual clues to who did it. Things just kind of happen until the killer reveals themselves in a dramatic fashion and if that matters a lot to you then sure, that’s going to create a problem at some point. However, it also feels like the murder mystery is more of a formality that’s just there to give this film a basic structure to work around and show off the assorted characters. The main crime could’ve been anything and the film would be the same, the fact that it’s something as high stakes as a murder means you might expect something a little grander in terms of resolution but that’s probably not going to happen… that could also be part of the joke, it feels like it but you can never really tell.
Confess, Fletch is genuinely hilarious with some great performances by a talented troupe of actors who give it their all. It’s a great star vehicle for Hamm (who honestly needs to just be a go-to leading man at this point) and has such a great consistent comedic tone that will undoubtedly get you giggling at some point. It’s a genuine joy from start to finish, hopefully this means that the Fletch series will continue without having to wonder how much of an asshole the lead actor was on set (… Chevy Chase is an asshole, I think this is a fact that people know well enough for me to make that comment)