Confess, Fletch (2022)
Jon Hamm: Irwin M. "Fletch" Fletcher
Marcia Gay Harden: The Countess
Kyle MacLachlan: Horan
Lorenza Izzo: Angela
John Slattery: Frank
Roy Wood, Jr.: Detective Monroe
Ayden Mayeri: Griz
Screenplay by Zev Borow and Greg Mottola (adapted from the novel by Gregory McDonald)
Directed by Greg Mottola
Gregory McDonald published 11 Fletch novels between 1974 and 1994, all of which remain unread by me. The first, Fletch Won, was adapted into a Chevy Chase vehicle in 1985. I saw Chevy Chase's Fletch right after graduating high school and thoroughly enjoyed it. Fletch remains my favorite Chevy Chase vehicle because it best captures what I think he was so good at during that era. He was a cocky, wise-cracking ass that seemed a little above it all and investigative reporter Irwin Flecther was a good match for that persona. I wrote about seeing Fletch last year during a series of summer movies from my youth. A second Chase picture, Fletch Lives, was released in 1989 and bombed and the franchise died with it. Perhaps its failure could be attributed to not being adapted from a source novel. Attempts to revive the Fletch franchise have persisted over the years to no avail.
Now comes Confess, Fletch, based on the 1976 McDonald novel of the same name. Jon Hamm takes over the Fletch role and those in the know claim this representation is much closer to McDonald's vision of the character. Chase made for a fine Fletch and I'm a fan of the movie, but it very much feels like a Chase vehicle. Jon Hamm has most notably played the complex ad executive Don Draper in Mad Men and its a remarkable performance. He is a gifted actor, but is he the right actor to play Fletch?
Fans of the source novel seem to be in line with the notion that Hamm's performance and the film overall are much closer to the spirit of the books than the Chase film. Since I've not read the books (soon to be rectified), I can't speak to that. What I can say is Hamm's Fletch is funny, charming, smart, arrogant, and a bit of a goofball with a penchant for getting in over his head. In this movie, he has been framed for murder. He simultaneously attempts to prove his innocence while searching for his girlfriend's stolen art collection.
This movie received little to no fanfare and zero marketing from its studio and that is a damn shame because this is a good movie. Hamm's performance isn't as grounded in a comedic persona like Chase's. His approach is subtler, toned down. His Fletch is still funny but in a less slapstick way. His best moments are in scenes with the detectives Monroe and Gris, played by Roy Wood, Jr. and Ayden Mayeri and what a treat it is to see Jon Hamm sharing the screen again with his Mad Men co-star John Slattery. He plays Fletch's former editor and their chemistry crackles.
The original novel was published in 1976 so, things have been updated to accomodate the 2022 setting. Fletch is no longer a reporter, but he does refer to himself as "a former investigative reporter of some repute" and references his disdain for the state of journalism. The pandemic is mentioned once and there is a fun recurring gag involving the way Fletch rewards Uber drivers with five-star ratings.
I liked Confess, Fletch, a lot and particularly enjoyed Hamm's interpretation of the character. He deserves more cracks at it, so it is too bad that the studio seems to have slept on this one. Maybe a streamer can pick up some interest and give us more.