“Confess, Fletch” has charm to spare

Published 1:51 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Clumsily tiptoeing into Tryon Theatre this week is “Confess, Fletch.” This delightful neo-noir comedy follows the titular Irwin M. “Fletch” Fletcher, an investigative journalist based in Boston who finds himself embroiled in the chaos of art theft, mistaken identities, and murder! 

 

While the crimes of Fletch’s world may be serious, the man, and his investigation into these crimes, are anything but. The mystery of the plot isn’t the substance of the film, but rather the frame on which the comedy is hung. Mining the detective genre for comedy is a tried and true cinematic tradition, and one that this film embraces. 

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Fletch is brought to life by the ever talented Jon Hamm, of Mad Men fame, who brings his trademark charm from the framework of drama to the framework of comedy. In fact, Hamm arguably shines even brighter in comedy, with his leading man looks giving way to a goofy smile and a knack for making himself the butt of the joke. Hamm’s Fletch is a clever character, exchanging quips and barbs without the smugness that so often plagues the delivery of wit in modern day cinema. 

 

However, the name Fletch is not one that most associate with modern film, nor associate with Jon Hamm.

 

For many viewers, the name of Fletch is inseparable from a character that Chevy Chase played in 1985. And while Hamm and Chase both play the same character, “Confess, Fletch” is not a remake of 1985’s “Fletch” (Ritchie), but rather a reboot of the intellectual property. Both “Fletch” and “Confess, Fletch” are adaptations of novels by Gregory McDonald. 

 

McDonald wrote a popular series of novels about his journalist, with the first titled “Fletch,” and the second titled “Confess, Fletch.” The films are adaptations of those respective novels, but stand alone as their own artistic interpretations. 

 

While navigating the waters of Boston’s upper crust, the yacht clubbers and art lovers, Fletch comedically skewers the city’s detached elite. This is a trademark of the character inspired by McDonald’s own youth. 

 

McDonald was educated at Harvard and paid his own way through by working on yachts, immersed in a world in which he was never truly part, but only observed. 

 

In many ways, “Confess, Fletch” is a product of love. Since the character’s theatrical debut in 1985, there have been a half a dozen attempts at rebooting the character, with various stars attached to the titular role. But none of those reboots ever left the dock, a fate that almost befell “Confess, Fletch.” It took Hamm himself putting half of his salary back into the film’s production for this version to be completed. 

 

“Confess, Fletch” inhabits a bygone sensibility of comedy, one that punches up rather than down, and one that endeavors to give us the best medicine of all, laughter.