innocent_man: (calvin)
[personal profile] innocent_man
Fletch was our first half of our annual New Years Double Feature. It's a detective comedy starring Chevy Chase, Tim Matheson, Joe Don Baker and (briefly) Geena Davis.

Fletch (Chase) is an investigative reporter trying to find the source behind the drug traffic on LA's beaches. In the course of his investigation, he's approached by a millionaire named Alan Stanwyk (Matheson), who, thinking Fletch is just a junkie, offers him 50 grand to kill him; Stanwyk claims to be dying of bone cancer. Fletch, knowing a set-up when he sees one but sensing a story, digs into Stanwyk's life and uncovers unsavory connections to the local police chief (Baker), the drug traffic, and Utah.

I've never read any of Gregory McDonald's Fletch novels (and holy crap, there are a bunch), but apparently the movie differs considerably from the book. McDonald still loved Chase's performance, though, and I have to say that this is before Chase kinda sold out so he's still fun to watch. There's some physical comedy, but mostly it's about Chase assuming different identities and taking on joke names to get what he wants, and playing off of people flawlessly to gain their trust. I didn't realize before what an accomplished con man Fletch is in this movie, but he's really good at saying just enough to get people talking and then shutting up and letting them talk.

Anyway, the movie is pretty understated. There's a car chase just so we get a little hit of action, there's implied sex (with Stanwyk's wife, played by Dana Wheeler-Nicholson), and some fun flirting with Fletch's office assistant, Larry (Davis). The movie flunks the Bechdel; the only time two women are even in the same scene is at the end when the widow Stanwyk (spoilers!) meets Larry, briefly, and I don't even think they talk to each other at all. But Ms. Stanwyk actually does have a bit of life and agency to her, right up until Fletch tells her the truth about her husband, at which point she wants to do something but winds up just doing what Fletch says. Can't win 'em all.

Fletch isn't really edgy, but it's got some fun moments and it's a good story, and it's a fun window into Chase's early career.

My grade: B+
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: Fletch Lives
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