Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fletch (1985)

Seen: On dvd on my laptop, rented from Hollywood Express.

I thought I had seen this movie before but I guess I only ever saw snippets of it on tv. Now I've seen the whole thing! Chevy Chase stars as the titular Irwin Fletcher, an undercover reporter who stumbles upon a murder plot mixed with fraud while investigating drug dealing on the beach. He dons a number of goofy disguises to get to the bottom of the case, which involves wealthy businessman Alan Stanwyck (Tim Matheson) and his supposed plans to kill himself. While on the job Fletch also romances Stanwyck's wronged wife, Gail (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson).

This is completely the Chevy Chase show, an actor I've never really latched on to. Here he is probably at his best, rattling off silly pseudonyms and under-his-breath insults while navigating a convoluted but actually fairly compelling mystery. The story is ok and Chase is strong enough in the lead, but neither really holds for the entire length of the film, which isn't especially long to begin with at 98 minutes. There are a lot of plot elements here that give Chase an excuse to do something funny, but not all of them are worth it. The dream sequence of Fletch as a player for the Lakers felt too much like blackface, for example, though I know it technically isn't. But others lead to exciting moments, like the unexpected car chase with a teen's stolen car or the character's snarky digs at privileged white jerks in the country club. I didn't see the point of the side-trip down Asshole-Cop Lane but it had Joe Don Baker so like any true MST3K fan I was equally excited and disgusted.

Some of the references are dated but most of Fletch holds up, thanks to what amounts to a decent noir-ish mystery plot and a script that never slows down. I was tickled by Geena Davis's Jimmy Olsen-like character Larry, who is too fucking adorable to be in only 3 short scenes. I want a sequel that stars her as a plucky recently-promoted reporter who has do go undercover to rescue Fletch from the clutches of criminals he was investigating. Let's do this, Hollywood.

3.5/5

Pair This Movie With: How about another 80's comedy-mystery with an SNL castmember? You know I'm talking about Beverly Hills Cop!

3 comments:

  1. I recommend you do not read the book, in which Fletch fucks a homeless 16-year old (NOT A JOKE).

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  2. Whereas I would totally recommend the majority of the novels, which are almost all great.

    On the other hand, I would give fair warning about the awful sequel Fletch Lives, which didn't use any of the novels as source material and it really shows.

    This first one is also one of the few films that I can personally stand watching Chevy Chase in.

    Nice review.

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  3. I'll be honest with both of you, I had not planned on reading the books anyway. The movie didn't really make me want any more of this character, so I hadn't planned on seeing the sequel either. Just my imagined sequel starring Geena Davis.

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