At a time when every new movie, whether in theaters or streaming, is judged by the noise it makes the moment it’s released, it’s a relief to stumble upon a movie built on nothing but understated charm. As it turns out, the sneaky comedy mystery “Confess, Fletch” has managed to make some noise of its own, through word of mouth and social media buzz, as viewers discover the simple, yet ample, joys of an unremarkable movie. announced. in theaters and on demand last week.
In theory, “Fletch,” which shares a main character and source material with the cult comedy Chevy Chase from 1985, could fit perfectly into the reboot and nostalgia craze of today’s Hollywood. But since it was directed by Greg Mottola (who shares screenplay credit with Zev Borow) and produced by and stars Jon Hamm, this incarnation of author Gregory Mcdonald’s witty, roguish detective isn’t interested in connecting dots with the past. He’s just here to make you laugh. And solve a mystery. Preferably barefoot.
Bringing Fletch to the screen was such a passion for Hamm that he reportedly put more than half his salary back into the production budget. Fortunately, the investment was worth it. When an actor already has a character as distinctive as “Mad Men’s” Don Draper on his résumé, it can be difficult to fit in as comfortably as someone new. But Hamm’s performance here as freelance journalist and investigative genius Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher is a masterclass in effortless charm, a comedic twist that never sacrifices character intelligence for a joke but steers clear of smugness and the flattery that prevail in contemporary comedy.
To help Hamm shine, Mottola surrounds his leading man with a killer row of scene-stealing supporting actors. One by one, Kyle MacLachlan, Annie Mumolo, Lucy Punch, John Slattery and Marcia Gay Harden take their turns center stage, with Hamm giving each partner enough room to play his part. As a pair of detectives working on the very case Fletch is trying to crack, Roy Wood Jr. and Ayden Mayeri make the most of the more substantial supporting roles, building some delightful jokes into what might otherwise have been standard roles.
As for that central mystery, it’s as light as the film itself, despite a dead body and multiple missing high art masterpieces. In that sense, “Confess, Fletch” can’t help but seem like the slacker cousin of sharper recent comedic mysteries like “Knives Out” and “Only Murders in the Building.” But sometimes you just want to have a good time, and with “Fletch,” Hamm, Mottola and company know exactly how to do it. Let’s hope they don’t feel like they have to raise the stakes, at least too much, for the inevitable sequel. And let’s hope they do soon.
Classification: R, for language, some sexual content, and drug use
Execution time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Playing: In general release and also available on demand; broadcast on Showtime on October 28