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CONFESS, FLETCH (2022) review

September 16, 2022


written by: Zev Borow and Greg Mottola
produced by: Bill Block, Connie Tavel and Jon Hamm
directed by: Greg Mottola
rated: (R for language, some sexual content and drug use)
runtime: 99 min.
U.S. release date: September 16, 2022 (limited and VOD)


Best known for “Superbad”, writer/director Greg Mottola’s last feature was 2016’s “Keeping Up with the Joneses”, a fun action comedy which was received negatively by critics and wound up a box-office dud. His latest is “Confess, Fletch”, a retooling of the two Chevy Chase comedies from the 80s that is supposedly a bit more loyal to the novels written by the late Gregory Mcdonald, reuniting Mottola with “Joneses” actor Jon Hamm. While it is understandably different from those previous movies, primarily due to the lead casting, the amusing “Confess, Fletch” doesn’t have any truly laugh-out-loud moments nor does it have a mystery that truly captures the interest of viewers, but it makes up for those things in charm.

That’s what Mottola (who co-wrote the screenplay with Zev Borow) and Hamm (who serves as a producer) are predominately relying on here, the charm of the lead character, specifically Hamm as Fletch. It’s something that’s brought up more than once throughout this story and what’s not-so-charming is that it’s mentioned by the titular protagonist rather than anyone who is actually charmed by the character. When some says they’re “adorable” or they are “easy to love” as Fletch does here, the knee-jerk response is more of an eyeroll than an agreeing grin.



As the movie opens, Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher (Hamm) arrives in Boston, having spent time with his new girlfriend, Angela (Lorenzo Izzo), who’s set him up in a fancy townhouse in Beantown. As he settles in, he notices the body of a dead woman sprawled out on the floor of the lower level. This situation leads him to calmly call Boston PD and soon enough Detective Monroe (Ron Wood Jr.) and his trainee, Griz (Ayden Mayeri) are inside the apartment with a forensics team, automatically believing Fletch to be the killer. Fletch is fully aware how it all looks and informs the detectives that he’s a former investigative journalist and a “newsman of some repute”, but neither of them are impressed or convinced otherwise.

The screenplay jumps back a month or so, connecting us to why Fletch was in Rome. We see his first meet-up with Angela in an outdoor cafe, where she shares he’s been hired to look into the kidnapping of her father, a wealthy Count, and retrieve his valuable stolen paintings. Angela is charmed by Fletch and the two become romantically involved. The couple are then seen casually walking a cobblestone street, enjoying gelato and sharing their own romantic history – which is when the self-deprecating Fletch mentions he’s been married multiple times, stating he’s “very easy to fall in love with.”

That’s sort of a meta-remark that is also kind of eye-rolling. Sure, Hamm easily wins us over and he has in just about everything he’s been in and many have been waiting for a lead role to come along for him to embody, but to play a character that’s so self-aware of his charm seems to play into all that a little too on-the-nose, which in turn pulled me out of “Confess, Fletch” one too many times.

Fletch arrives in Boston to track down some stolen paintings, specifically a Picasso, at Angela’s behest, because apparently the criminals will not release her father until they have that particular painting. So, now Fletch has to contend with a murder that points towards him and a track down at the very least a stolen Picasso, if not other paintings. As he starts his own investigation (doing his best not to cross paths with the two detectives), he discovers the identity of Owen (John Behlmann), who learns is connected to the deceased, but finding out exactly how is another mystery.

The entertainment factor of “Confess, Fletch” is most apparent when we watch how Hamm navigates his quick-thinking character engage with others, which can also be said for Chase’s portrayal. Since Chase was known for his SNL antics and playing other sardonic characters in rom-coms, seeing him use various personas to investigate a case was fun and expected. Ham relies on his aforementioned charm and straightforward calmness throughout and it works. His behavior doesn’t necessarily play for laughs, but it’s still a kick to see him go back-and-forth with characters who are quirkier or just plain bigger than he is. Seeing him simply reply with an expression elicits a chuckle.



As Fletch catches one lead at a time to clear his name, he tries to fit the scattered puzzle pieces into a picture that makes sense, but it all depends on the various characters he meets. Once such character is art-dealing germaphobe, Horan (a game Kyle MacLachlan), someone who Fletch will run into more than once, and the inevitable meet-up with The Countess (Marcia Gay Hayden), the randy stepmother of his girlfriend, who’s flown in from Italy. Fletch also encounters the oblivious Eve (a hilarious Annie Mumolo), who lives next door to the Boston townhouse and apparently aware of the comings-and-goings of the Owen character. Many of these supporting characters take Fletch aback with their quirky and idiosyncratic ways, so it’s a reprieve when we see him reconnect with his former editor, Frank (John Slattery), someone he knows and who knows him. These two have the relaxed, low-key rhythm of two old friends, and while it probably helps that their pairing may conjure the chemistry the actors had in “Mad Men”, it’s easy to see how Slattery is creating a distinctive lived-in character.

Back in the 80s, the two “Fletch” movies directed by Michael Ritchie were great vehicles for showcasing the antics of comedian/actor Chevy Chase. While the second one wasn’t as funny, the first one was hilarious, primarily for the wry comic timing of Chase and all the personas he would embody as Fletch, a Los Angeles Times reporter who snoops around like a detective to get his scoop. Over the years, there were many rumors and attempts to get another Fletch movie off the ground, with the likes of Kevin Smith and Jason Lee involved and even the likes of Zach Braff and Jason Sudeikis attached. Those would be decidedly different movies than “Confess, Fletch”, likely leaning heavily on overt comedy. Mottola’s movie is takes another approach to the character, partly due to the casting of Hamm, but primarily because it should. There’s no reason to try and duplicate what’s been done before except to try and resuscitate IP and make money. You hear that, Disney?

That being said, a comedy-mystery should find the right balance to make viewers laugh and keep them enthralled. Confess, Fletch” doesn’t do either one very well, but it still has a fun, easy-going pace to it and Hamm is enjoyable to watch. Plus, this kind of movie – this kind of attempt – is very rare to see nowadays and it should be welcomed. The mystery may not have kept my attention, but seeing Hamm take lead here felt good.



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