The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - CONFESS, FLETCH | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema] - CONFESS, FLETCH

confess fletch review
Fletch becomes the suspect in a murder case while searching for a stolen art collection.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Greg Mottola

Starring: Jon Hamm, Lorenza Izzo, Marcia Gay Harden, Kyle MacLachlan, Roy Wood Jr., John Slattery

confess fletch poster

Novelist Gregory Mcdonald's signature character, the wise-cracking investigative reporter I.M. Fletcher, aka "Fletch", was first brought to the screen in a couple of 1980s movies starring Chevy Chase in the lead role. Those films were an attempt to ape the success Eddie Murphy had found with genre comedies like 48 Hrs and Beverly Hills Cop. What made Murphy's films work was how they adhered to the classic Bob Hope formula of dropping a comic protagonist into an otherwise straight genre piece. The comedy thus arises from Hope/Murphy being the only one who knows they're in a comedy, while the rest of the characters play it straight.

confess fletch review

Director Greg Mottola's reboot of the series, Confess, Fletch, flounders because every single character seems to be fully aware they're in a comedy. Taking over the role from Chase, Jon Hamm is given a role tailor made for his Cary Grant-esque combination of handsome looks and comic goofiness, but with everyone else in the movie similarly cracking wise and acting goofy, he struggles to shine.

This adventure sees Fletch fall for Angela (Lorenza Izzo), a young Italian society girl who hires him to find her father and his art collection, both of which have mysteriously vanished. After a brief trip to Italy, the rest of the movie takes place in the less scenic surrounds of Boston, where Fletch finds himself the prime suspect in a murder case when he arrives to find the corpse of a young woman on the floor of the home where he's temporarily staying.

confess fletch review

Another key reason the likes of the Bob Hope and Eddie Murphy movies worked was in creating genuine stakes for their protagonists. While their leading men made wisecracks, they were in actual danger with various villains out to get them. Fletch breezes through this mystery without ever coming up against any real threats. His interactions with the police are particularly difficult to swallow. From my brief dealings with American law enforcement, I can tell you they're not known for their sense of humour. If anyone mocked the police in the smartass manner of Fletch here, I don't think it would end well for them.

confess fletch review

While Hamm does his best, Mottola and co-writer Zev Borow struggle to define the character. Treating the discovery of a young woman's corpse as a joke doesn't exactly endear us to Fletch from the off, and Hamm's nice-guy routine is always in conflict with the cold-hearted nature of the character as written on the page. There are some witty retorts and one-liners, but too many of them are of the Dad joke variety. Supporting characters occupy tired stereotypes like the ditzy heiress, the horny older woman, the sloppy stoner etc, with only Hamm's old Mad Men co-star John Slattery given an interesting character. He plays Fletch's old newspaper editor Frank, a grizzled throwback to the likes of Simon Oakland in Kolchak. At best, Confess, Fletch plays like a serviceable pilot for a TV show, and Slattery's Frank would make for a welcome recurring character. As a standalone movie, there just isn't enough substance to this endeavour.

Confess, Fletch is in UK/ROI cinemas from November 18th.

2022 movie reviews