Confess, Fletch Review
Confess, Fletch arrives in theaters, and on digital and On Demand on Friday, Sept. 16.
Confess, Fletch not only shines a spotlight on Jon Hamm's playful quippiness but also on the engaging breeziness of Gregory McDonald's Fletch mystery novels. It's a medium-stakes, high-chuckle caper that gives us a clever crime-solver who is sort of the anti-Hercule Poirot. Investigative journalist -- or in the case of Confess, Fletch, retired investigative journalist -- Irwin M. "Fletch" Fletcher doesn't always have all the answers.. or even any of them. But Fletch stories are a terrific blend of proactive snooping and happenstance, which suits a sarcastic character like Fletch to a "T."
Directed by Superbad's Greg Mottola, Confess, Fletch (which is the second Fletch novel by McDonald) finds our sharp, genial hero heading back to the States from Italy where he's been tasked with tracking down his girlfriend's family's stolen art collection. When he arrives at his rented townhome in Boston, there's a dead body awaiting and a string of evidence pointing to him as the killer. Mottola, who's worked with Hamm on previous films, is perfect at drawing out the conversational comedy here as well as Fletch's charm (which might too easily come off as smarm in the wrong hands).
You don't have to be a fan of Chevy Chase's Fletch film from 1985 (which was based on the first Fletch mystery) even though that particular story, understandably, is a better introduction to Fletch and what he's all about. That movie, too, blended Fletch with Chase's particular comedic stylings, for which there thankfully is some common ground, while also playing up Fletch as someone who likes to wear elaborate disguises and use silly fake names when he's digging into a scandal or case. The roots of that are true, as Fletch often lies and/or presents himself as someone else to get through doors or talk to people who wouldn't want to talk otherwise and Confess, Fletch reels this element in a bit more so that it doesn't feel outlandish or out of step.
The film is also very good with its ensemble, allowing Hamm to sparkle as Fletch while also surrounding him with characters who don't feel flat, or like stock cops or suspects. Roy Wood Jr. and Ayden Mayeri are immensely likable as the police detectives who now find themselves, for better or worse, in Fletch's orbit, often pretending they're immune to his antics and insight. Lorenza Izzo and Marcia Gay Harden are also boons for the film, as Fletch's girlfriend and her flamboyant "Countess" step-mother, respectively. Plus, there's Kyle MacLachlan, Bridesmaids co-writer Annie Mumolo, and -- oh yeah! -- John Slattery.
This isn't the first time Slattery and Hamm have been in the same project since Mad Men (Wet Hot American Summer: First Day at Camp), and it won't be the last (the upcoming Maggie Moores), but it's the best use of their Mad Men banter stylings and acting dynamic. And if you are familiar with both '80s Fletch films than the casting of Slattery as Fletch's former LA newspaper editor, Frank, feels more inspired, because that, too, comes with built-in saltiness. It's just one more thing that makes Confess, Fletch feel like kismet after others (Kevin Smith, Bill Lawrence) have tried to get a new Fletch movie made for decades.
Confess, Fletch, at long last, has finally done what many have attempted do in the wake of 1989's Fletch Lives, which was to bring the specific tenor of McDonald's prose to the screen. Every stab at a Fletch reboot was done to "be more in line with the books." Confess, Fletch does its best to introduce Fletch to a new generation, for a new era, but its biggest appreciators may still be those from decades ago who fell in love with the novels (or the Chase movie). Confess, Fletch isn't a neatly tied-up mystery, nor is it one where the protagonist can spot the truth through a maze of twists and turns, but it is an awesome encapsulation of why Fletch is an addictive scamp. Sometimes he two steps behind, other times he's three steps behind, but he's always entertaining.
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This story originally appeared on: IGN - Author:Matt Fowler