REASON: Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher (Jon Hamm) is a former investigative journalist living as a travel writer based in Rome. Now involved with an heiress (Lorenza Izzo), when her father is kidnapped, he heads back to the US to find a priceless, stolen art collection they need for his ransom. Immediately he is accused of murder and must stay one step ahead of the police to clear his name and recover the stolen paintings.

REVIEW: Most people reading this review probably know Fletch as the main character played by Chevy Chase in one of his best movies, The 1985s Fletchand its (mediocre) follow-up, Fletch lives. The films were based on a long-running series of novels by Gregory McDonald, and for decades Hollywood has tried to relaunch the series, with Kevin Smith notably attached at one point.

A passion project for producer-star Jon Hamm, who also produces, Admit it, Fletch is much closer to the tone of the McDonald novels than the Chase films. A lot of the things people remember most about these movies were the one-liners and disguises, but it was both pure Chevy and not really part of the books. In this film, as in the books, Fletch is more of a charming rogue with a quick wit and a knack for getting into (and out of) trouble. It’s a light comic mystery that’s low-key and relatively enjoyable to watch, giving Hamm a role he’s ideally suited for.

Relaxed, even when accused of murder, Fletch never takes his predicament too seriously, knowing that he will be able to figure things out eventually. The film, like the book, is primarily a detective story as Fletch interviews a gallery of rogues, including an unscrupulous art dealer played by Kyle MacLachlan, plus an opioid-addicted rich kid and his trophy wife (Lucy Punch) and a few others. Like any good mystery, the cast is crucial. Director Greg Mottola has a gang of killers with him Barb & Star Go to Vista Del MarAnnie Mumolo has a killer cameo as a crazy, twisted neighbor of one of Fletch’s suspects. The daily show‘s Roy Wood Jr. steals scenes as the detective on Fletch’s trail. A funny addition to the case is that he is always presented as exhausted, having a newborn at home. His police partner, Ayden Mayeri, is also fun as the one woman in the cast who seems immune to Fletch’s charms, while Marcia Gay Harden chews the scenery as the wife of the kidnapped Italian count.

The mystery is good, but like many of the books it’s all secondary as the real joy is just watching Fletch do his thing. Hamm has the right charm to play this ex-journalist (“of some fame,” as he tells People), with his Mad Men co-star John Slattery appearing as his former newspaper boss. It’s a small role, but casting a guy Hamm already has a history with adds to the case.

Confess, Fletch, Jon Hamm, Greg Motolla

Many will inevitably compare this to the Chevy Chase movies, but it’s far lower key. This is driven home by the smooth jazz soundtrack by David Arnold. Motolla has tried to make a classy cartoon thriller, in which he has given a shout-out to Robert Altman The long goodbye in the press notes to this. He emphasizes the eccentric cast, although a few jokes fall flat, such as McLachlan’s character being into EDM. Of all but Hamm, Izzo does well as a character who could have been a standard femme fatale but has her own agency. It all adds to the film’s mood, which is low-key and pleasant.

That said, it also lacks the propulsive energy of the Chase films. These movies made the McDonald’s books turn them into commercial entertainment. While Admit it, Fletch chooses to be more faithful, the result is slightly less entertaining than the first film (although it is significantly better than Fletch lives). The film is solid entertainment, but a streaming review. Still, I had a good time with it. Ultimately, Fletch is such a juicy character for Hamm that I hope he gets to play him again, maybe in a sequel that’s a little more dynamic.

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