Movie Review: Confess, Fletch

Fans of TV’s MAD MEN were no doubt giddy with excitement when news came out of an on-screen reunion of Jon Hamm and John Slattery. I know I was. Even better was that they’d be starring in the reboot of the “Fletch” series of comedy-crime novels, a short-lived ’80s franchise that starred Chevy Chase in the titular role. But this isn’t a remake of Chase’s two “Fletch” films, FLETCH and FLETCH LIVES. This is a whole new film based on writer Gregory Mcdonald’s second novel in the series, CONFESS, FLETCH.

Updated for the pandemic era by director Greg Mottola (SUPERBAD) and Zev Borow (TV’s OUTER RANGE), CONFESS, FLETCH sees the former investigative reporter (Hamm, TOP GUN: MAVERICK; BEIRUT) involved in a complicated situation surrounding his Italian girlfriend, Angela (Lorenza Izzo, ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD). Her wealthy father, a count, has hired Fletch to find a collection of multimillion dollar paintings that were recently stolen from him. Fletch believes that the paintings are now in the possession of Boston art dealer, Ronald Horan (Kyle MacLachlan, HIGH FLYING BIRD; TV’s TWIN PEAKS). It’s not long before word comes to Angela that her father has been kidnapped and his ransom just happens to be one of those paintings. Fletch flies to Boston but when he enters the rental flat that Angela had booked for him, he discovers the body of a dead woman on the floor. Police Inspector Detective Monroe (Roy Wood Jr., TV’s THE DAILY SHOW) and his Junior Detective Griz (Ayden Mayeri) suspect Fletch’s involvement in the murder as the evidence they gather points in that direction, and Fletch now has to work fast to find the art, identify the murderer and clear his name with the police. (Strangely, rescuing the Count doesn’t seem to be much of a priority but go with it.) As his investigation continues, he meets the kooky neighbour, Eve (Annie Mumolo, AFTERNOON DELIGHT); Angela’s eccentric stepmother, the Countess (Marcia Gay Harden, the FIFTY SHADES franchise; TV’s SO HELP ME TODD); and the flat owner’s ex-wife, social influencer Tatiana (Lucy Punch, SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY). Fortunately, he gets some help from his ex-boss and old friend at the Boston Sentinel, Frank Jaffe (Slattery, the AVENGERS franchise; SPOTLIGHT).

CONFESS, FLETCH is as light and breezy as the original FLETCH films but, unlike those, this one is completely forgettable. That’s not to say that Hamm is a bad choice for this role because he’s not. The actor handles the comedy very well but his Fletch isn’t quite as irreverent as Chase’s and he doesn’t do the wacky, physical humour that was Chase’s hallmark. At least the sexist and racist humour is gone from this film (what were we thinking back then?), replaced with more contemporary topics like germaphobia, the digital age and opioid use. To the screenwriters’ credit, they throw in quite a few callbacks to the two earlier films, including the title design, which fans should enjoy. The big problem is that CONFESS, FLETCH isn’t half as funny as it ought to be to give this IP some serious legs. Of course, Hollywood doesn’t seem to care as long as the film turns a profit, which CONFESS, FLETCH should given that it only cost US$20 million to make. Not surprisingly, it’s already been reported that discussions are underway for a sequel. What’s old is new yet again.

CONFESS, FLETCH is currently playing in the cinemas in the US and is available for rent on Apple TV and Amazon Prime. On October 28, it is supposed to move exclusively to Showtime. It’s not bad. It’s just not very good either.

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