12 November 2022

I Confess: New Fletch Is a Big Improvement

I thoroughly enjoyed the Fletch reboot. You might agree, or you might disagree, or likely you hadn't heard there is a Fletch reboot. Well, there is. September. Confess, Fletch skipped wide release and headed almost straight for streaming services, propelled by a Miramax marketing campaign so stealth it would've shamed a ninja.

Fine by me--in the short run. I last darkened a movie theater door sometime before the pandemic. I'm happy in my basement cave, the big screen primed and a glass of wine ready for crime comedy.

Jon Hamm takes up the Fletch mantle. Fletch, if you've never seen the 1980s films or read the novels, is an ex-investigative reporter turned odd combo of art writer and impromptu sleuth, with special stress on impromptu. Movie-version Fletch is forever under-thinking investigation aliases and winging his way through trouble, usually of the upper crust sort. Fletch isn't a bumbler, though. He's a glider, and given the chance, Jon Hamm glides like few can.

The film offers plenty of glide path. The set-up: An Italian count hires Fletch to help recover a stolen art collection. Fletch's contacts say one stolen piece was sold in Boston. Fletch gets wrapped up first with the client's daughter and next with Boston Homicide detectives. Fletch discovers a young woman murdered in the Beacon Street condo that his new Italian flame rented. Then the Count vanishes, presumed murdered. The more Fletch investigates, the more the crimes are connected back his girlfriend. There's an actual mystery here.

They make too few movies like this anymore. Paced but not hurried, snappy dialogue without banter, constant humor without stooping to sophomoric, a bit of style but not style-obsessed. Much too rare these days. That's my long-term worry over Confess, Fletch landing bang in my basement cave, zero marketing beyond rolling the dice on a social media buzz-let.

If Miramax thought a smart crime comedy would break the box office, Miramax would've tried that route. I get it. Jon Hamm is great, but he's a television guy, and Mad Men was a while ago. Box office leads aren't also doing Progressive commercials. Nobody casted in Confess, Fletch is pre-hyped to younger thrill-ride seekers actually buying tickets. This film franchise has been dormant for three decades. The Fletch demographic is home decompressing via binge watch.

Maybe no one wants to make movies like this anymore.

Honestly, Hollywood didn't even make the original Fletch movies like this. Fletch (1985) exists to let Chevy Chase shtick his shtick. Seriously, there have been interviews about the lack of a traditional script. The plan was Chevy. The shtick works, but it doesn't hit hard. It can't when Chevy riffs through scenes played as skits, some legit hilarious, few with conflict even decent comedies need. Shtick without story wears thin. Witness the sequel, Fletch Lives (1989). Its contribution to entertainment was that actors and crew banked a paycheck.

Confess, Fletch takes the road more scripted. Good thing, because director and writer Greg Mottola asks the cast to act their comic roles. Much of that script sticks to the source material, Gregory McDonald's Edgar-winning novel (1977). Updated for a double-generational leap, of course. The best tension onscreen isn't between Hamm and his girlfriend or any of the suspects. It's the inter-generational joust between Hamm and Ayden Mayeri's Junior Detective Griz. Mayeri is gloriously Millennial in speaking her value while learning to keep up with Fletch.

Confess, Fletch can be nitpicked. The suspects could've used character depth. More danger would've sharpened the humor. The forensics and evidentiary exposition creeps toward a high-budget episode of Castle. But smart comedy doesn't have to be inventive genius. It has to be good, and Confess, Fletch is pretty good.

Please, someone keep making films like this.

Side note only discovered while researching this: In the 1980s, Gregory McDonald relocated to Pulaski, Tennessee, sixty miles from my basement cave. McDonald got involved in local anti-Klan efforts, which makes him especially cool.


  1. I read the series way back and saw the initial movie. Perhaps the acting pool back then was a little shallow. At least the opening beach scene led to a nice surprise.

    But intelligence in films, such a rare commodity.

  2. I am looking forward to seeing the movie (you didn't mention which streaming service has it, btw). I loved the first few Fletch books and LOATHED the movie. Here is why: The book centers on two unrelated crime plots, with no connection except that Fletch is investigating both. In the movie, Surprise! The man creating the first crime scheme is, completely by coincidence, the man organizing the other plot. Drove me nuts.

  3. I, too, hated the original Fetch movie. But it sounds like things might have gotten better.


Welcome. Please feel free to comment.

Our corporate secretary is notoriously lax when it comes to comments trapped in the spam folder. It may take Velma a few days to notice, usually after digging in a bottom drawer for a packet of seamed hose, a .38, her flask, or a cigarette.

She’s also sarcastically flip-lipped, but where else can a P.I. find a gal who can wield a candlestick phone, a typewriter, and a gat all at the same time? So bear with us, we value your comment. Once she finishes her Fatima Long Gold.

You can format HTML codes of <b>bold</b>, <i>italics</i>, and links: <a href="https://about.me/SleuthSayers">SleuthSayers</a>