Movie Review: “Confess, Fletch” | The Harvard Press | Features | Feature Articles
Directed by: Greg Mottola
Starring: Jon Hamm, Lorenza Izzo, Roy Wood Jr., Ayden Mayeri, Kyle MacLachlan, John Slattery
Available on Google Play, Amazon Prime, YouTube
Rated R, 98 minutes
There are certainly more standout movies you might see than “Confess, Fletch,” movies that have attracted more public intrigue, movies that leave a sharper impression. Just in the past few weeks, between the releases of the Marilyn Monroe biopic “Blonde,” with its controversy over her salacious NC-17 treatment of Monroe’s life, and the drama “Don’t Worry Darling,” with its endless behind -the -gossiping scenes, it seems like all the air has been sucked out of the room, leaving little room in the public consciousness for anything else. Even Miramax, the studio behind “Confess, Fletch,” seems to have lacked faith in the film’s ability to draw a crowd; director Greg Mottola (“Adventureland”) and star Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) had to donate much of their salary just so the production could afford to finish filming.
It’s a shame, but afterwards, it’s business. An airy whodunit set among the posh townhouses and yacht clubs of Boston, “Confess, Fletch” reminds us time and time again that the weaknesses of the wealthy ripple out to us all; we are all at the mercy of money and the games people play with it. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should take rich people seriously. “Don’t you just hate people who are too poor to afford beauty?” Fletch asks a wealthy influencer in one scene, impersonating a flattering magazine reporter. She laughs, pulling a telltale face.
Much of the film unfolds with similar irreverence, as Fletch investigates the murder of a young woman to clear his own name in the case. Verbal training with the slow-moving Inspector Monroe (Roy Wood Jr., “The Daily Show”) and his clumsy assistant Griz (Ayden Mayeri, “I Love That For You”), Fletch recalls Dr. Richard Kimble from “The Fugitive, if Kimble had stayed to offer the U.S. Marshals unwanted advice in their investigation. As Fletch searches for clues, his springy energy and insane wisdom never wavers, for better or for worse. Rare is the mystery with a more naively dimwitted detective at its center.
If it’s not a film with a particular thematic or emotional charge, “Confess, Fletch” is charming, with a cast of quirky supporting characters and a loose two-hour atmosphere. cocktail. Our star Jon Hamm almost fades into the background as everyone from Marcia Gay Harden and Lucy Punch to Annie Mumolo and John Slattery parades through the landscape, bewildering and bewitching Fletch with his trifles. Characters drop their phones and their meals and they fall asleep sitting up, ruining tense moments before they’ve even begun. A yacht club security guard stops each car at the gate to inform passengers of their shellfish allergy. As Fletch uncovers more details of the woman’s death – exposing, in turn, the truth behind a multi-million dollar art heist and the kidnapping of a wealthy Italian earl – the world around him concentrates, revealing a rich tapestry of fools. Red herrings abound; they are almost more important than the mystery itself.
If anything, the action is too light and inconsequential. Despite all claims of his innocence, Fletch commits one crime after another during his search. “The only reason I haven’t stopped you yet is because I like watching you dig a deeper hole for yourself,” Detective Monroe chides him, in a not-quite-convincing concession. to the limits of public disbelief. Elsewhere, Greg Mottola’s screenplay leans too heavily on its nonchalant tone, until it seems even Fletch doesn’t care what’s going on. Without the buffoonery of Frank Drebin in the “Naked Gun” films, or the sanguine calmness of, say, Benoit Blanc in “Knives Out”, Jon Hamm’s Fletch is sometimes caught in a purgatory between slapstick and suave.
For fans of the original ’80s Fletch movies starring Chevy Chase, “Confess, Fletch” might seem like a strange character retaliation, a reboot that sees our main character take a back seat to the many eccentric players around him, the mystery of the murder serving as the vehicle for an easy-going, low-stakes comedy. It’s like putting a set of simple furniture in a room with extravagant wallpaper. But ultimately it’s no less a reason to appreciate the film, with its many fine performances and its disarming sense of humor. The world may be full of pain, but is that a reason to let a little murder get you down?
Danny Eisenberg grew up at Harvard and has been a Harvard Press film critic since 2010. He lives and works in Denver, Colorado.