I have to confess, about Fletch. At parties, I’ll often tell people that find out I review movies, “I’ve seen every movie made since 1974.”
Sometimes people call me on that, and I’ve usually seen the obscure films they bring up to try to catch me on. Of course, it’s not true that I’ve seen all movies since the mid-70s. And Fletch is one I had never seen. It came out in 1985 when I was 16, and I was just burned out on Chevy Chase. I loved him on Saturday Night Live and then Caddyshack. I still think Foul Play with Goldie Hawn is one of the most underrated movies ever. He did Vacation and a few other films, and I was just tired of seeing him. Kind of like how my wife is currently feeling these days about Tom Hanks.
Yet when Fletch would be on HBO a year after it came out, I caught a few scenes, and it made me laugh. When I did a morning radio show, my partner used to quote a line from it that cracked me up.
I was pleasantly surprised that Jon Hamm gave an interesting spin on this character, not playing a bumbling idiot. He was a snarky guy that often thought he was the smartest in the room, and I can’t imagine another actor playing it as well as he did. This caper, from one of Gregory McDonald’s mystery novels, may not be the biggest, most interesting mystery ever. But damn, it sure is funny and breezy fun to watch. And it helped me think about the disappointing mystery I saw the day before (See How They Run).
Irwin M. Fletcher (or I.M Fletch, which cracked me up when it sounded like “I am Fletch) is a former investigative journalist. We meet him in Italy with a woman (Lorenza Izzo) he schmoozes, while working to find her kidnapped father and some valuable stolen paintings. He flies to Boston, and once inside his rented townhouse, finds a dead body.
As charming and fun as Hamm is, I was thrilled by other casting choices. I’ve loved Roy Wood Jr. since his days on The Daily Show. He’s the perfect straight man, as the detective who’s convinced Fletch killed the woman. His sidekick Ayden Mayeri is absolutely adorable, and it’s refreshing that, just like Sairose Ronan’s character in See How They Run, they’re not idiots.
Those three would have been enough to make this movie pleasurable, but then they have Kyle MacLachlan as an art dealer who’s a germaphobe that likes to blast his EDM tunes.
There’s John Slattery as the newspaper editor that has a love/hate relationship with Fletch. He’s fun, and feels like an old school journalist. Slattery and Hamm have done a few films together since their Mad Men days.
Marcia Gay Harden knocks it out of the park as the Countess, who’s constantly trying to seduce Fletch.
The only character that didn’t work for me was Annie Mumolo as the flighty, pothead neighbor. She played the part well, but the character was a bit much. Her shenanigans reminded me of how I got tired of Kramer on Seinfeld after the second season. I was tired of her 2 minutes into the wacky kitchen scene.
It was smart of director Greg Mottola (Superbad), to give us such a great rapport between the characters, instead of worrying about an intriguing mystery. And there were so many jokes I was laughing out loud at, that others in the theatre weren’t; the facial expression of Mayeri as Fletch takes off his shoes and socks during questioning, or an annoying security guard that wants to talk about what appetizers he likes at a soiree, or how he did security for Peter Wolf. (Perhaps only hardcore music fans will appreciate that they used a Boston artist, and brought up the song Whammer Jammer, but I digress). That character is played by Eugene Mirman, and it almost makes me want to forgive him for doing the unfunny Bob’s Burgers.
For those that want to see a variety of disguises – those are gone. The Lakers cap is still there (and as a Lakers fan, I loved him wearing that in Boston). He does still come up with fake names that he doesn’t always remember.
This is currently in theatres and On Demand, and I’m not sure why it didn’t get better marketing. It’s one of the most fun times you’ll have at the movies this year.
3 ½ stars out of 5. It’s leaving theatres very soon, but you can catch On Demand.