16th Nov2022

‘Confess, Fletch’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jon Hamm, Roy Wood Jr., Annie Mumolo, Ayden Mayeri, Lorenza Izzo, Kyle MacLachlan, Marcia Gay Harden | Written by Greg Mottola, Zev Borow | Directed by Greg Mottola

After what seems like an eternity of talk of a third Fletch movie, it has finally arrived. Not the Fletch we were expecting (I’d honestly still like to see Kevin Smith’s proposed version with Jason Lee) but a Fletch that has a pretty decent pedigree – including Jon Hamm playing the titular character and Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland) and Zev Borow (Lethal Weapon, Human Target) behind the camera. OK, so it won’t match up to the craziness of Chevy Chase’s two Fletch movies (could any new Fletch movie?) but we’ve got the acting chops, plus the action AND the comedy experience – all of which stand the film in good stead…

Confess, Fletch sees the roguishly charming and endlessly troublesome Fletch (Hamm) become the prime suspect in a murder case while searching for a stolen art collection. The only way to prove his innocence? Find out which of the long list of suspects is the culprit—from the eccentric art dealer and a missing playboy to a crazy neighbour and Fletch’s Italian girlfriend. Crime, in fact, has never been this disorganised.

This iteration of Fletch is based on writer and Fletch creator Gregory McDonald’s second novel and plays up more of the mystery angle of Fletch’s investigation work rather than the offbeat comedy that other entries the series are known for, Mainly because Jon Hamm, despite great comedic work in the likes of TV’s 30 Rock and the based-on-a-true-story Tag, can’t seem to strike the right tone and capture the quirky nature of Fletch.

In fact, I’d go as far as saying Confess, Fletch feels like it was written for Chevy Chase and, due to the comedian’s now-legendary “difficult” behaviour, the role was recast at the last minute (or Mottola and Borow reworked a pre-written script from the 80s). There are points where you can see how Chase would have handled a scene with aplomb but where Hamm seems to struggle with capturing Fletch’s tone and behaviour – which is not something you’d expect from such a polished performer. Don’t get me wrong, he’s got Fletch’s charm down pat but not the laughs, unfortunately.

In the end, it really does feel like the version of Fletch written in Greg Mottola and Zev Borow’s script needed a comedian, one who knows how to improvise well, in the lead role rather than an actor who can, when it’s written well, do comedy. There was an inherent stiffness to Hamm’s performance that hindered the more comedic aspect of the film. Which means this Fletch turns out to be rather dull.

Even an attempt at “Knives Out” style quirkiness cannot save this film. And there’s a LOT of that going on – from Marcia Gay Harden’s Countess, the mother of Fletch’s love interest and the wife of a kidnapped Baron whose stolen paintings are central to the story; to Detective Monroe (Roy Wood Jr.) and his trainee Griz (Ayden Mayeri), who are investigating Fletch; to Fletch’s wacky and accident prone neighbour Eve (Annie Mumolo); Confess, Fletch is packed with characters who all seem to be filling in the films gap in comedy – be it quirky or laugh out loud. It all, sadly, seems a little desperate and suggests the difficulty in bringing Fletch back to life in the movies (the character’s last film was back in 1989) really was the struggle filmmakers made it out to be!

** 2/5

A surprising misfire from co-writer and director Greg Mottola, Confess, Fletch is getting a cinematic release in the UK on November 18th. Which is just as surprising as the film itself given its streaming debut elsewhere across the globe.


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