Fletch. Universal Pictures 1985.
Fletch. Universal Pictures 1985.

Before watching the movie:

I always had the idea this was a movie extrapolated from a recurring Saturday Night Live character. My logic was that Fletch is often considered Chase’s most iconic character, and the title is simply the character’s name, as if we’re expected to already know him. When I got the disc and learned Fletch is a master of disguise, it just seemed more logical that this would be a vehicle movie to showcase Chase’s talents. I only found out just now that this is an adaptation of a novel.

Not much has changed in my expectations. I still expect some digressions to do characters more to be funny for a while than to advance the plot. However, since it’s based on a book, the plot will probably be a little more fully realized than with a typical vehicle movie.

After watching the movie:

Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher is an investigative reporter tracking down information on his next big story cracking a drug operation on the beach.  Believing him to be just another beach junkie, corporate executive Alan Stanwyck approaches Fletch and offers him a large sum of money to come back on Thursday and kill him, saying he has bone cancer but can’t commit suicide for insurance reasons. It’s a weighty proposition, so Fletch spends the week investigating Stanwyck’s story on top of working the drug case. With his deadline bearing down on him and bullets flying at him from unexpected places, little is what it seems, often Fletch least of all.

Everyone makes a big deal about all the disguises Fletch takes on, but they were kind of a letdown. The hype had me expecting something like Master of Disguise without the magic, but there were really only three or four really impressive costumes, and one of them was an irrelevant dream sequence (I was really interested in finding out how the mystery lead him to bluffing his way into playing basketball with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). What Fletch ”is” good at is flim-flamming his way into what he wants. Usually. He seems to get caught or suspected almost as often as he’s completely believed. I think that vulnerability makes him more believable, but occasionally less fun to watch. I’m sure the sequel had a lot more outlandish costumes.

The plot seemed really solid. There was a while when I was wondering why one element was still there, but of course it all tied together in the end in a fairly clever solution. Of course there were digressions from time to time, but most of them were pretty short, and there was a plot thread running through most costumed sequences. There were even some unexpected turns along the way.

I don’t usually worry too much about romantic interests, but I was somewhat disappointed here. Of course, Stanwyck’s beautiful wife in a loveless marriage was played up as Fletch’s romantic pursuit, but it felt like a conquest rather than the normal love story. They’re infatuated with each other, but I don’t get the sense it’s built on anything lasting. Meanwhile, Fletch’s newspaper coworker played by Geena Davis has a mutually flirty, friendly relationship with him that I was sorry to see didn’t take much foreground notice.

This was a solid movie with some good laughs, but aside from a great Chevy Chase showcase I didn’t see anything particularly special about this movie. It’s a pretty good movie, but I think it’s ultimately overhyped.


Watch this movie: for rapid-fire Chevy Chase wit.

Don’t watch this movie: for deep-character Chevy Chase acting.

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