Review by Sean Boelman
Jon Hamm might have made a name for himself with his dramatic work, but he has a comedic side that he has gotten to flex more often. Confess, Fletch promises to be a starring vehicle for Hamm, but due to a botched, under-the-radar release and it largely coming up short, it may not be the franchise-starter it wanted to be.
Based on the second novel in Gregory Mcdonald’s book series, the film follows Los Angeles reporter Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher as he sets out to clear his name while he becomes the prime suspect in a case involving several murders and a bunch of stolen art. While it’s nice to see the Fletch character on screen again, it’s in service of a movie that’s not all that spectacular.
This reboot is picking up a legacy that has spanned ten novels and two movies. Although Fletch might not be a literary classic character on the level of something like James Bond, there is still a decent level of fandom surrounding the character. As such, Hamm had some pretty big shoes to fill.
Hamm is obviously a very different actor from Chevy Chase, and he brings his own unique spin to the character. While Chase went goofy and over-the-top with the role, making it feel almost like a parody of the archetype, Hamm plays it more straight. Confess, Fletch feels like a more standard detective picture, albeit one with a slight comedic edge.
That said, the film’s attempts at humor often fall flat. Part of the issue is that the movie can’t seem to decide what side of the political spectrum it falls on. There are lots of anti-cop jokes, but then there’s also a character played by John Slattery that says conservative bullshit from time to time, and not in a way that plays as satirical.
The film also struggles from lacking a compelling mystery at its core. The beats are ones that any fan of the genre should recognize: the ne'er-do-well investigator finds themselves a suspect in a case, and they have to find out who the killer really was to clear their name. And this story about stolen art and murders isn’t all that interesting.
Motolla fails at giving the movie any sort of stylistic energy either. It plays like a very standard studio comedy, which for a film that plays with the tropes of the genre, it’s disappointing to see something that is so conventional and bland. There either needed to be more high-stakes action sequences or better physical comedy to make this work.
Confess, Fletch isn’t unwatchable, but given the property that it’s based on, it should have been more than a merely passable studio comedy. Jon Hamm’s interpretation of the character is interesting, so hopefully we get the chance to see him again as the character — just investigating a better mystery.
Confess, Fletch is now in theaters and on VOD.